Happy News for Nicole Mitchell | Bleader

Happy News for Nicole Mitchell


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Nicole Mitchell
  • Nicole Mitchell
After a performance in Milan, Italy, on September 14 Chicagoan Nicole Mitchell had her two flutes stolen from a car while the band enjoyed a celebratory meal. The loss of high-priced instruments can be devastating for a musician without an endorsement deal, and since then Mitchell has been borrowing flutes for gigs; the stolen instruments have not been recovered. Yesterday, however, Mitchell shared some good news on her Facebook page, and she's given me permission to reprint it below.

Dear Friends, I'm so happy to FINALLY give you the story about my flutes and the happy ending! If you don't feel like reading it all, I'll give a short version later, but I feel compelled to tell it in detail...

When the theft happened in Milan, my agent, Ludmilla Faccenda, was very upset. On our way from the police station she told me, "Now is the time to get you an endorsement." Within a few days she began talking with Powell Flutes.

Meanwhile, back home in Chicago, I was struggling with my old raggedy flute, playing the debut concert for Renee Baker's Chicago Modern Orchestra Project and featuring Black Earth Ensemble at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. By the time I was on stage in Symphony Center for the Chicago Sinfonietta concert, my flute wasn't working at all. I had to borrow a flute from the lap of the flutist next to me to play my solo and then replace it in her lap. Luckily, most of that gig was on piccolo, which I had borrowed from a friend and had to return after the concert.

One night when I was particularly down, I got a phone call from my friend and music colleague, Mike Reed. Mike is a drummer/composer. We play together on several projects, including the Exploding Star Project, he is the AACM Vice-Chair, and he runs the Pitchfork Festival. Before I could barely greet him, he stated matter-of-factly that he would get me a new instrument, because that was the right thing to do and he had the ability to do it. I don't have the words to express the silence of that moment, as my mind turned from gratitude to humility to joy to responsibility to wondering if I deserve such a thing, and he told me that he wasn't going to wait around for me to go through all that processing but to give me a call when I was ready. That moment taught me a lot about community, friendship and self. I didn't want to waste my friend's money. I waited.

While flute-less, I got an email from a woman who had read about my loss. She had come to some of my concerts and offered me to borrow her flute. I borrowed her flute for a few days, hoping that things would resolve before I left for Europe.

Another good friend and artist, Floyd Webb, was already planning to put together a fund-raiser to help buy me a new flute. With all this happening and floating above me, I wasn't sure if that was a good idea. I felt that during this economic crisis, people have much more important needs than a flute to raise money for. I decided not to do the fundraiser and I put my faith in floating possibilities.

Then a mentor and friend that I really look up to, a luminary saxophonist of creative music (who wants to remain anonymous), called me while on tour in Europe to tell me that he wanted to give me his flute. Wow! I experienced another wave of overwhelming thankfulness. To play a flute that this master has been playing on—his ideas had been punched through those keys and his spirit had blown through that tube. What an amazing gift. I was floored with this gesture of kindness and just received the flute a few days ago. It will take some work to get it going, but I look forward to continuing the special story of this flute and to invent new sounds on it.

On Thursday afternoon, the day before my tour began, a box arrived to my house from Powell Flutes with a new silver flute inside. Powell has agreed on an ENDORSEMENT and offered a nice discount for a piccolo and flute. Mike Reed (I must call him "HERO") paid the remaining balance on the instruments. Just hours before I had to left for my concerts in Prague, Brest, Barcelona and Madrid, I now have this beautiful instrument to play on.

Last night in Prague at the Jazz Goes to Town festival, with Indigo Trio (Hamid Drake and Harrison Bankhead), I got to start a new relationship with this wonderful gift, a new Powell Flute. It has a darker, richer sound than my old flute and I'm having fun bonding with it.

I am so grateful for this experience, because I've learned so much about community, friendship and the power of generosity. Big thanks to all my friends and new acquaintances, who have reached out to me with gestures of kindness and really shown me that I'm not alone. We really do have a global music community and Chicago is a special place within it. I'm glad to be a part of it.

Thanks everyone for your love and help!


photo: Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Today’s playlist:

Adjágas, Mánu Rávdnji (Trust Me)
Sonny Rollins, Way Out West (Contemporary/OJC)
Witch, Lazy Bones!! (Q.D.K. Media)
Issac Delgado, Asi Soy (Machete)
Iannis Xenakis, Phlegra/Jalons/Keren/Nomos Alpha et cetera (Apex)

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