Artifacts (Tomeka Reid, Nicole Mitchell, Mike Reed)

And Then There’s This

Astral Spirits • 2021

Artifacts are a Chicago jazz combo with three members: Nicole Mitchell plays flute and works the electronic sound generators, Tomeka Reid plays the cello in mostly rhythmic interpretation, and Mike Reed is responsible for all things percussion. All three are members of the AACM, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, an organisation that champions African-American music and encourages its proliferation from generation to generation. While the Artifacts covered pieces by AACM artists on their first release in 2015, they mainly interpret music composed by themselves on »…And Then There’s This«. Generally, it sounds like creative, lively jazz, which is in no way formalistic, but glides through the room with a life of its own. The first two numbers highlight this freedom in particular: »Blessed« by Nicole Mitchell gives free rein to her flute primarily and reveals conservative traits in its accompaniment in the best sense of the word. In contrast, there is »Reflections«, on which Mitchell’s woodwind instrument flits over Reed’s cymbals, and yet all three members still find enough space to make themselves heard. »Song For Helena«, which follows, is clearly written by Reid. Cello and flute are closely entwined, but the former sets the tone with its sombre mood. It’s quite evident who has written which song and thereby carved out a formative role for their own instrument, but it’s also outstanding how much consideration is shown to fellow band members in each case.