Robert Michell


"Robert Mitchell is a lyricist and a thinker, and British jazz is far richer for his presence"
      Mike Butler

Composer, lyricist and pianist Robert Mitchell is a throwback to the powerful tradition of artistic mastery in pursuit of transcendence. In his own words: “I wish to encapsulate the feeling of endless upward progress - to remove the apparent divisions between inspiration, notation, deployment, and performance. And to appeal to the idea that there is no limit to the amount of beauty we can reveal in the universe.” A contemporary Rennaisance Man, who draws on many art forms, including dance, poetry, spoken word, theories and concepts and many musical genres, as well as curates festivals and strives for innovation and encapsulates the times we live in within his work.                                                               

Robert Mitchell

Whether performing in the solo context or with his 4/5-piece ensemble Panacea or any of his other formats, Robert’s focus is upon the highest ideals of the essence of jazz. Like many artists who grew up in the post-60s environment, Robert was exposed to a full gamut of musical disciplines from hardcore Western Classicism through World music tradition. He incorporates this experience in his work in the most creative possible way. Over his 20 years entrenched in the art of music, Robert has recorded twelve albums of his own projects, participated in over 100 projects as a sideman and has performed in more than 40 countries. Robert has won awards in the UK - BBC Jazz Awards (Innovation, as part of the F-ire Collective), Best Jazz Album (BBC DJ Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards) has been nominated for many more. Robert Mitchell is a Steinway Artist.

These days his primary focal points include his latest brainchild True Think, a multi-generational, multi-cultural reflection of several periods of Robert Mitchell’s journey. The project with which Robert released a double album ; “Hold the Light/ The New Resistance” , featuring Grammy-winning and nominated artists, including Carleen Anderson, Becca Stevens, Alicia Olatuja and Omar. Other current touring bands include Robert Mitchell's Epiphany 3, alongside his long-running ensemble Panacea, duo with the cellist Shirley Smart and solo performance (including a current fascination with one-handed works, of which he has been curating a festival in London since 2013 and recorded a solo CD for left hand only “The Glimpse”) as well as ongoing collaborations with various artists (including Cuban violinist Omar Puente and Cuban percussionist Ernesto Simpson; a tribute to Nina Simone with U.S. vocalist Jhelisa Anderson; ESKA).  "A Vigil for Justice. A Vigil for Peace" is a spoken word/jazz infused, multi-genre inspired set of compositions and the music is part of a bigger concept called "The Spirit Line", a result and a step forward in Robert Mitchell’s pursuit as a pianist, composer and thinker. In addition to all of this Robert is involved in a variety of institutional and private educational activities.

A Bit Mo’ About Robert Mitchell’s Projects...

Robert Mitchell's Epiphany 3 are part of Robert's new project, "A Vigil for Justice. A Vigil for Peace". With the new music and texts the composer addresses dissatisfaction with the political process, inequality and division, continued struggles for peace, migration, refocussing on the special talents that everyone possesses, long lasting love, a tribute to the brilliant Debbie Purdey. It is also an introduction to a larger work called “The Spirit Line”. The music inspired by freedom, groove, power, grace, symbiosis, Ubuntu, trust, love and loss contains - odd metre, latin influences, free form, funk, fusion, m-base Steinway piano, Vintage vibe, toy piano and Roland synth keyboards, acoustic, electric and electro acoustic bass - with touches of inside piano and drum machine. Plus inspiration coming from beat poetry/spoken word, hip hop and beyond. All of it is a brilliantly executed whole - Robert Mitchell's ninth album to date, produced by the ECM recording artist Miles Bould, released on vinyl on Depth of Field label and features Laurie Lowe on drums, Tom Mason on electric, acoustic & Electro-Acoustic basses and Thami Hlabangana & HKB Finn as narrators.

"New Robert Mitchell’s album is I believe his best yet.... absolutely top quality jazz from one of the world's finest"
      Gilles Peterson

Robert Mitchell's Panacea are a unique ensemble, forming the centre of Robert's compositional path in large band format. The current core features - Robert on piano/keys, Deborah Jordan (Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Silhouette Brown) on vocals, Tom Farmer (Empirical) or Tom Mason (100 Club) on bass, Laurie Lowe (Nic Meier, Gilad Atzmon) on drums. The group also performs with special guest saxophonist. This project has produced three acclaimed albums - VOYAGER (2001), TRUST (2005) and THE CUSP (2010). Musicians and Guests on these recordings have included: Norma Winstone MBE, Eska Mthungwazi, Michael Mondesir, Barak Schmool, Roberto Bellatella, Eugene Skeef, Richard Spaven, Robin Mullarkey, Steve Williamson, Omar Puente, Julian Ferraretto, Ben Davis, Hammadi Valdez, Volker Strater, Shaney Forbes, HKB Finn. They have toured the UK extensively, and performed at festivals in Europe. The music is infused with various influences and spiced with rhythmic and melodic surprises. Robert successfully mixes classical chamber-group techniques, soul and R&B vocal sounds in his ensemble and the band is a treat to hear and watch as the interplay between the musicians is both outstanding and exciting. Robert’s virtuoso piano playing is the core around which the talented musicians weave and improvise.

A very ambitious project for Panacea is a piece written by Robert for the jazz ensemble, a choir and string orchestra entitled “Invocation” - a tribute to life-changing teachers. The suite was premiered with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and singers from Avonbourne and Harewood Colleges at the Bournemouth Arts By The Sea Festival in September 2014 (jazz/choir only) and was described as having both "conceptual richness and real soulfulness, the humanity at its core" (Kevin Le Gendre). The piece was performed in its full version at the London Jazz Festival in November 2014 enriched by Goldsmiths (Big) String.

Robert Mitchell

"Imaginatively constructed and endlessly surprising"
       - Peter Quinn on “Invocation”

" The astonishing Robert Mitchell, familiar as the pianist and MD for the recent ‘BBC Four celebrates Jazz 625 For One Night Only’, took the keyboard apart in every sense of the word. He uses both hands and sometimes cross-hands with equal force to build solos of unbelievable depth and complexity. Urged on by his fellow players and the awe-struck audience, his playing became ever more audacious as the evening progressed. "

"This is not at all easy to categorise and is all the more powerful for that. Pulling on jazz traditions from the deep South through to today's European scene, hip hop and adding in a knowledge of modern classical back to Baroque, Mitchell creates music that doesn't allow the listener to sit back and relax into familiarity.... Throughout the evening, there was no way of knowing what route he would take, what musical colours he would paint, what soundscapes he would invent "
      Oxford Times