Matt Mitchell (pianist)
|Born||July 19, 1975|
|Years active||Late 1990s–present|
Mitchell was born on July 19, 1975. He grew up in Exton, Pennsylvania. He first played the piano aged six, and composed from the age of 10. He had lessons in jazz and theory at a university from the age of 12. At this stage he was influenced by pianists Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock.
Later life and career
Mitchell attended Indiana University for three years and then, in the late 1990s, he completed a master's degree at the Eastman School of Music and settled in New York. In 1999, he contacted saxophonist Tim Berne for some of his scores, but did not pursue the contact further at that point. Mitchell had various jobs in New York, but chose to return to Philadelphia. He then worked in a library for nine years, before leaving when he had too many gigs to fit in.
In 2011, Mitchell had a sextet named Central Chain. In 2012, Mitchell introduced a new trio, with Chris Tordini on bass and Dan Weiss on drums. In the early 2010s, Mitchell was also part of Berne's Snakeoil band, and John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble and Claudia Quintet.
Mitchell has written and published several collections of études. His 2017 release A Pouting Grimace is"a 10-part suite extrapolated from a one-bar vamp reminiscent of Roscoe Mitchell's 1977 piece 'Nonaah'."
A New York Times reviewer commented in 2011 that Mitchell "feels close to the consensus language of straight-ahead jazz but wants to get beyond it. He does it with hands moving in independent parts, with polyrhythms, with music that approaches the technical level of études but that churns and whirls and leaves spaces for broad interpretation." Mitchell has been described as "a chameleon, able to take on completely different musical personas across of fast array of situations."
Another New York Times reviewer observed that "Mitchell has his guideposts as an improviser, including Paul Bley and Andrew Hill, pioneers of stubborn poise and self-containment". Mitchell's playing reflects a thorough understanding of his predecessors but remains powerfully singular: "Mitchell is special [...] because he weaves together understanding of perhaps four distinct and critical jazz piano traditions, pulling in impressionistic texture from Bill Evans/Herbie Hancock, ravenous but dynamic attack from Cecil Taylor/Don Pullen, the rhythmic rush of Bud Powell, and the comfort with abstract melodic logic of Paul Bley. Does Mitchell, therefore, sound schizophrenic or derivative? No – over and over he sounds like himself: the most complete and well-integrated improvising pianist of the last 15 years."
Mitchell commented that "I aim to think compositionally when improvising and think improvisationally when composing – trying to expand what is possible in both scenarios."
An asterisk (*) indicates that the year is that of release.
|2000||Adenium (v. 1)||Scrapple||As Kaktus; trio, with Aaron Meicht (trumpet), Lars Halle (drums)|
|2000||Adenium (v. 2)||Scrapple||As Kaktus; trio, with Aaron Meicht (trumpet), Lars Halle (drums)|
|2001||Sharing the Dry||Scrapple||As Kaktus; trio, with Aaron Meicht (trumpet), Lars Halle (drums)|
|2002||Feigner||Scrapple||As Feigner; trio, with Aaron Meicht (trumpet, electronics), Brendan Dougherty (drums, electronics)|
|2004||Laughter only Feigned Reproach||Scrapple||As Feigner; trio, with Aaron Meicht and Brendan Dougherty (electronics)|
|2005||Vapor Squint, Antique Chromatic||Scrapple||Solo|
|2013*||Fiction||Pi||Duo, with Ches Smith (drums)|
|2015*||Vista Accumulation||Pi||Quartet, with Chris Speed (tenor sax, clarinet), Christopher Tordini (bass), Dan Weiss (drums)|
|2017*||A Pouting Grimace||Pi||With Scott Robinson (bass sax, contrabass clarinet), Jon Irabagon (soprano sax, sopranino sax), Ben Kono (oboe, English horn), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), Anna Webber (flute), Katie Andrews (harp), Patricia Brennan (vibraphone, marimba), Ches Smith (vibraphone, glockenspiel, marimba, timpani, percussion), Dan Weiss (tabla), Kim Cass (double bass), Kate Gentile (drums, percussion)|
|2018*||Angel Dusk||Screwgun||Duo, with Tim Berne (alto sax)|
|2003*||Thinking Plague||A History of Madness||Cuneiform|
|2011*||The Claudia Quintet||What Is the Beautiful?||Cuneiform|
|2012*||Michael Attias||Spun Tree||Clean Feed Records|
|2012*||Darius Jones||Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise)||AUM Fidelity|
|2012*||Mike Lorenz||Of the Woods||Mike Lorenz Music|
|2012||Dave Douglas||Be Still||Greenleaf Music|
|2013||Tim Berne||Shadow Man||ECM|
|2013||Dave Douglas||Time Travel||Greenleaf Music|
|2014||Rudresh Mahanthappa||Bird Calls||ACT|
|2015||Mario Pavone||Blue Dialect||Clean Feed Records|
|2015*||Dave Douglas||Brazen Heart||Greenleaf Music|
|2015*||Dave Douglas||Brazen Heart – Live at Jazz Standard||Greenleaf Music|
|2015||Tim Berne||You've Been Watching Me||ECM|
|2015*||Tineke Postma and Greg Osby||Sonic Halo||Challenge|
|2016||Sebastian Noelle||Shelter||Fresh Sound New Talent|
|2017||Jonathan Finlayson||Moving Still||Pi|
|2017 (released 2018)||John Hollenbeck||All Can Work||New Amsterdam|
|2018||Jonathan Finlayson||3 Times Round||Pi|
|2018*||Quinsin Nachoff||Path of Totality||Whirlwind|
- "Matthew Mitchell". The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- "Matt Mitchell". Scrapple Records. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- Ratliff, Ben (October 6, 2011) "New Pilots at the Keyboard". The New York Times.
- Chinen, Nate (August 10, 2012) "New Compositions from a Trio Propelled by Piano". The New York Times.
- Layman, Will (November 22, 2013) "Matt Mitchell: Fiction". popmatters.com
- Beuttler, Bill (February 2015) "Rudresh Mahanthappa – Moving the Eye". Down Beat. pp. 32, 34.
- "Matt Mitchell Études" Archived 2013-04-01 at the Wayback Machine.. Screwgun Records. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- Ackermann, Karl (October 15, 2017). "Matthew Mitchell: A Pouting Grimace". AllAboutJazz. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
- Panken, Ted (January 2018). "Matt Mitchell – Generous Bandleader". DownBeat.
- Ackermann, Karl (October 15, 2017) "Matthew Mitchell: A Pouting Grimace". AllAboutJazz.
- Layman, Will (October 9, 2018) "Jonathan Finlayson's Jazz Is Cerebral and Strutting on '3 Times Round'". popmatters.com