Robert Mitchell ‘The Rainbow Mountain / Can We Care’ (Depth of Field) 4/5

‘The Rainbow Mountain / Can We Care’ is the new live and improvised project from pianist Robert Mitchell recorded live at London’s Jazz Cafe in July 2018.

Where do we begin when recounting a career like that of Robert Mitchell’s? With nine albums preceding this release and an incredibly long list of past collaborators including work with luminaries like Courtney Pine, Daymé Arocena, Daniel Casimir and 4 Hero, Mitchell has long proved himself as one of the most revered pianists working today, including Mitchell’s star turn on Michael Olatuja’s brand new album, ‘Lagos Pepper Soup’.

Released through the Depth of Field label, the home of Mitchell’s 2017 ‘A Vigil For Justice. A Vigil For Peace.’ album, part of what makes the idea of this album so appealing is the extensive and varied nature of these collaborations and side projects (Robert Mitchell 3iO, Panacea and J.Life) – Mitchell has always been able to adapt to varying styles and even genres so for those a fan of his natural skill and ability – or even for those a fan of the instrument in general – it’s fairly incredible to experience what he’s able to achieve on this release.

The music sounds like listening to an absolute master of their craft playing their instrument for the first time. Everything about this is like an exploration – at times it feels like Mitchell is exploring the capabilities of the instrument itself, trying to push it in directions it’s never been to before, and at other moments it feels like the exploration is directed inwards.

Depending on where you are with your jazz, yes, it would be wrong to say that the concept of a near forty-minute improvised solo piano performance comprising the whole album may perhaps be an intimidating or challenging concept to some. It’s understandable how people could be put off a project without some of the potentially key elements that lured you to jazz in the first place – the energy of a stage full of musicians performing together, basking in that interplay between instruments and concepts, maybe even some impressive vocals – so asking whether a solo album can really compensate for these lost elements is a fair question. That said, ‘The Köln Concert’ solo piano work by Keith Jarrett has to date sold 3.5 million albums.

‘The Rainbow Mountain / Can We Care’ is an intimate, bold and thoroughly enjoyable listen and the perfect display of Robert Mitchell’s genius.

Imran Mirza

Read also:
Robert Mitchell in interview with UK Vibe PART 1PART 2PART 3
Robert Mitchell ‘A Vigil for Justice. A Vigil For Peace’ LP (Depth of Field) 5/5
Robert Mitchell ‘The Glimpse’ CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 3/5