Chicago avant-garde flautist and composer Nicole Mitchell, who joined the University of Pittsburgh last year as Director of Jazz Studies, unites with Houston composer and multi-instrumentalist Lisa E. Harris for the album EarthSeed, inspired by the works of science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler.
EarthSeed‘s music is a lively, freeform sprawl of jazz, chamber music, and spoken word poetry that centers on the concept of the seed, as well as the push/pull between the words “Yes” and “No.” The album is meant to be experienced as a whole, but I especially enjoyed the track “Ownness” for the playfully cryptic banter that ushers it in, the bright peals of sound that teem from Mitchell’s flute like a school of fish, the dramatic interplay between Zara Zaharieva’s sprightly violin and the menacing baritone of Tomeka Reid’s cello, the awestruck way (like the speaking of the words and the discovery of the words are one and the same) that Harris and vocalist Julian Otis deliver the song’s refrain (“To love each other/We simply love our own love/While sitting next to each other!”), and the scrambled, alien electronics that close the proceedings. Difficult to characterize, fascinating to behold.
Buy EarthSeed here
Check out more from Nicole Mitchell and Lisa E. Harris