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Nicole Mitchell's Ice Crystals: Aquarius: Delmark, 2013

The sheer silvery glistening sensuality of the cover of Aquarius leads one to lock into the intimate process of flutist Nicole Mitchell's translation of sound from her ear to the air. She has chosen the right musicians to join her because none of them are bravurists. They all seek to blend with the sprightliness, delicacy and distinctive colors of Mitchell's rich melody lines. There is nothing boppish here; each track is an evolution of natural events, where one musician folds into and out of the larger picture with style and grace. The intended atmosphere of this music would be unattainable without the vibrant responsiveness of the members of this group.

Mitchell is one of the most sincere, genuine and disciplined musicians around. Her music exudes her heart. She believes in a formal approach to rhythm. She breathes beautifully and concisely through improvisational offshoots to the main musical subject. Her playing is not concerned with stressing her instrument to reach extremes. Her playing is more concerned with telling stories that have everything to do with her imagination. She has such control over the way the sound emanates from her instrument that it can be heard even when she blows in a hardly audible register.

Bassist Abrams has a soft round tone matching drummer Rosaly's thoroughly sensitive and varying percussive touch, not to mention Adasiewicz' display of clarity as he strikes the resonant vibe bars behind the beat, filling in the breezy spaces.

At the close of this album is a tribute to her mentor, saxophone player and Chicago musician Fred Anderson. Mitchell is one of the many musicians to reap the benefits which Anderson offered, opening the doors to his famed Velvet Lounge, to allow them to explore their art. Mitchell's husband Calvin Gantt recites a poem, ending with the words: We Love You, Fred Anderson...We Love You, Fred Anderson. And the music dissipates a bit frantically to land in a place of peace.

copyright 2013 Lyn Horton


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