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The Gig: Commission This!

One night last summer in Lower Manhattan, the Chicago-based flutist Nicole Mitchell premiered a long-form composition inspired by the work of Octavia Butler, the pioneering science-fiction author. Created and conceived for Mitchell’s nine-piece Black Earth Ensemble, it was one of several new works presented during the 12th annual Vision Festival. And it pursued an ambitious agenda, exploring metaphysical concepts through the multifarious procedures of a still-evolving jazz avant-garde.

Mitchell’s work is now available as a studio recording, Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler (Firehouse 12), and if you scan the inside cover, you’ll find the usual notes and acknowledgments. You’ll also see a line about the origins of the piece: “It was created with support from Chamber Music America’s New Works: Creation and Presentation Program through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.”

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Originally Published
Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the director of editorial content for WBGO and a longtime contributor to JazzTimes, which published 125 installments of his column “The Gig” between 2004 and 2017. For 12 years, he was a critic for The New York Times; prior to that, he wrote about jazz for the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper, and several other publications. He is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (2018) and the co-author of George Wein’s autobiography Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (2003).