Leaving Mood/Awakening
Review by Willard Manus

Delmark has once again dipped into the deep, inexhaustible well of Chicago blues & jazz to quench our thirst for soul music. Both Toronzo Cannon and Nicole Mitchell have been part of the Chicago music scene for many years, Cannon as a guitar- playing sideman, Mitchell as an award-winning flutist and band leader. Now they both have released new albums on which they get to play their own compositions.


On LEAVING MOOD Cannon not only plays lead guitar but sings fourteen original songs. With a mellow voice that matches his down-home guitar-playing, Cannon comes across in a vivid and moving way that speaks well for his future as a blues headliner. His lyrics are first-rate, telling stories that are close to life: a marriage that's gone wrong, the fight to stay afloat in difficult economic times, a warning to fellow artists about the dog-eat-dog aspects of the music business. In the title tune, he sings about a much-put-upon man whose woman has made him feel small and is intent on "running it all." He's tryin' not to lose his cool, he informs her, but makes it quite clear at the same time that he's in "a leaving mood."

Nicole Mitchell's AWAKENING contains nine tunes written by the flutist and recorded in March of last year. Mitchell, who was recently cited by Downbeat and the Jazz Journalists Association as a rising jazz star, is backed by guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Avreezyl Ra. She leads the way, showing off her lyrical and exquisite gifts as a flautist, weaving delicate, deeply-felt tales on each of the album's improvised tracks.

The beauty of Mitchell's playing is hard to describe in words. Suffice to say that she takes you to another, better world each time out.