2018 Chicago Jazz Festival Reviewed

Source: JazzTimes.

Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds, which her Black Earth Ensemble performed at the Pritzker Pavilion on the first day of the 2018 Chicago Jazz Festival, is a visionary Afrofuturistic fable of new beauty arising from old—“merging,” as Mitchell has said, “the chalice with the blade, the urban with the earth-focused, the electronic/electric with the acoustic, the female with the male.” And, she might have added, the past and present with the future. The Ensemble’s instrumentation made this clear; the ancient sounds of traditional Asian percussion, wind, and string instruments (taiko, shamisen, shakuhachi)melded seamlessly with the outer-space ululations of a theremin alongside more ostensibly conventional “jazz” and “classical” voices. Musical stylings ranged from ensemble blends rooted in the Western canon through funk, fusion, art rock, and post-Sun-Ra free-form harmonic cosmology, all the way back home to deep-roots soul/gospel testifying.