London Jazz Festival Preview (10) Robert Mitchell

Preview: Robert Mitchell’s Panacea by Sarah Ellen Hughes – photo Richard Kaby
(Vortex, Friday November 12th, 8 30pm)

Panacea was the Greek goddess of healing. The Panacea was a remedy that would cure all diseases. It has now been accepted in the modern English language as a term meaning the solution to all problems – a “cure-all.”

I asked pianist Mitchell – a Steinway and Roland artist – why he chose this word to present his octet. “I have a lot of nursing in my family. This and music have a big connection – both are healing.”

The group has just released its 3rd album – Mitchell’s 6th amongst his other projects – called “The Cusp.” It is currently touring the UK, and makes a single stop during the London Jazz Festival. (All tour dates can be found on the website )

Mitchell’s other projects include collaborations with Omar Puente as well as solo and trio outings, but of Panacea he says “It is the first outlet for my creativity. The project is a decade young, this is its most ambitious outing. It is a great feeling to bring my ideas from sketch to gig, with the pressure only coming from my muse.”

In its current form, Panacea features an unusual but magical combination of jazz trio, tuned and un-tuned percussion , violin, viola, cello and voice – both sung and spoken. Haunting vocals are provided here by Deborah Jordan, and HKB FiNN – a hip hop, reggae and jazz-influenced poet/rapper – provides the spoken word. The music is alluring, quirky and poignant.

What relevance does the album have to him at this time in his life? “‘The Cusp’ celebrates birth and re-birth. I became a father last year, and I also hope humanity can bring a better age of co-operation. The album addresses some large questions I regard as important.”

Robert Mitchell’s Panacea will be kick-starting The Vortex’s London Jazz Festival program on Friday 12th November. This intimate space will be a wonderful setting to hear the music of Robert Mitchell’s mind come alive.



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