Maroon Cloud, a powerful eight-part suite by celebrated flutist Nicole Mitchell, is a paean to the human gift of imagination and its ability to foster resistance in our dystopian times. It features a drum-less quartet with Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, pianist Aruán Ortiz and vocalist Fay Victor, recorded live at National Sawdust in Brooklyn as part of John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series (March 29, 2017). (The same group returned to play Le Poisson Rouge during Winter Jazzfest in January 2018.)
In part, maroon cloud refers to the realm of creativity that we can enter simply by closing our eyes — an ability no one can take away from us. “Imagination, especially black imagination, is a really vital and undervalued resource,” the composer states. “It’s very clear that we can’t continue in the same direction that we’ve gone, but we need to return to the source of where imagination and creativity come from, because if we don’t have another vision then we can’t implement it, and we can’t make a different future. What makes us special as human beings is our ability to imagine things that don’t even exist yet.”
Those future-seeking visions, for now, exist in what we might call the “cloud.” “Maroon,” meanwhile, has a number of meanings: in part it ties into the theme of resistance by referencing the Maroons — those Africans who escaped slavery in the Caribbean and banded with indigenous people to form their own communities as early as the 16th century. Mitchell also cites the alternate meaning of “marooned,” i.e., people being left or abandoned to their fate. And then there’s maroon, the rich dark color we might see with eyes closed, imagining social and political renewal.
The absence of drums on maroon cloud opens up space for “other ways of coming together,” as Mitche....... więcej