Powerful interpretations of revolutionary African-American jazz

Vocal Classics of the Black Avant-garde

Elaine Mitchener

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Described as a ‘fearless performer’ and a ‘genre-crossing virtuoso’, vocalist, improvisor and composer Elaine Mitchener here pays tribute to some of her spiritual, political and artistic ancestors in the African-American jazz avant-garde of the sixties and seventies. With an ensemble of leading British musicians, she offers her own bold interpretation of radical works by Eric Dolphy, Archie Shepp and Jeanne Lee. Instrumental improvisation is combined with vocals and spoken word in a powerful new dynamic. The revolutionary ideas and scope for individual and collective freedom in the music remain a metaphor for the ongoing struggle to create a new civil society. Stark and original, joyful and defiant, America’s historical black avant-garde is a cornerstone of contemporary music, and still alive in the era of Black Lives Matter.


Born in London into a Jamaican family, singer Elaine Mitchener is both a leading performer of contemporary composed music and an acclaimed vocal improvisor.

An alumni of London’s Trinity College of Music, she currently studies with opera singer Jacqueline Bremar. As an improvisor she has performed with many leading European and American instrumentalists including Evan Parker, George Lewis and William Parker. In the realm of composed music, she focuses on the contemporary repertoire – pieces she has performed include Cave by Tansy Davies with the London Sinfonietta, SongBooks by John Cage, Manga Scroll by Christian Marclay, and Infinito Nero by Salvatore Sciarrino. There is a radical political dimension to her chosen repertoire also. As a member of the UK ensemble Apartment House she has made a point of performing works by black composers, including Julius Eastman, Fluxus artist Ben Patterson, and the UK premiere of Charles Mingus’ String Quartet No 1.

Under the banner of ‘Elaine Mitchener Projects’, she has developed a number of projects which further emphasise the historical importance of African-diasporic composers and improvisors. These include Sweet Tooth, Vocal Classics of the Black Avant Garde and the Jeanne Lee Project. Her trio The Rolling Calf combines texts by revolutionary Caribbean writers with collective electroacoustic improvisation to strike a new bridgehead for the black British avant-garde.



Elaine Mitchener
Jason Yarde (saxophone, pedals, M.D.),
Elaine Mitchener (voice),
Mark Sanders (drums, percussion),
Neil Charles (bass),
Dante Micheaux (speaker, poet),
Anton Lukoszevieze (cello),
Alexander Hawkins (piano)

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