Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler
is the new studio recording of Chicago-based flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell s extended work of the same name, inspired by the work of Afrofuturist writer Octavia Butler (1947 2006), a Hugo, Locus and Nebula Award winner and the first science fiction author to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant. The piece, realized by her decade-old group, Nicole Mitchell s Black Earth Ensemble, received its world premiere in June 2007 at the 12th annual Vision Festival in New York and was performed again at the Chicago Cultural Center this past December.
"Brooding and sometimes harrowing," explains the Chicago Reader's Peter Margasak in an August 2007 feature article, "[Xenogenesis Suite] combines lyrics and nonverbal vocals with jagged, dissonant instrumental arrangements to convey the story of a black woman abducted by aliens after humanity nearly kills itself off in a nuclear war her captors need to interbreed with other species to remain genetically viable, and she's asked to recruit other humans to help."
Critics called have called the piece "dense, dramatic and daring" (Howard Mandel, JazzHouse.org), "haunting and extraordinarily moving" (Marc Medwin, AllAboutJazz.com) and "reminiscent of some of the best work of Sun Ra, The Art Ensemble of Chicago or Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan People s Arkestra" (Dr. Saïs Kamalidiin, jazzreview.com). Time Out Chicago s Matthew Lurie adds, "If only every high-achieving author had a champion this imaginative."