Matt Mitchell is a pianist, composer, bandleader, and educator whose musical interests inhabit the intersections of various strains of acoustic, electric, composed, and improvised new music. In addition to composing for and leading several groups of his own with musicians ranging from Tyshawn Sorey and Miles Okazaki to Dan Weiss and Anna Webber, he has served as a core member for several ensembles including Tim Berne's Snakeoil, the Dave Douglas Quintet, Mario Pavone's Blue Dialect Trio, and John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble. Since his 2006 solo improv debut, Vapor Squint, Antique Chromatic, Mitchell has released close to a dozen albums under his own name including the acclaimed Fiction in 2013 and 2017's A Pouting Grimace. In addition, he is a featured co-headliner on the New American Songbooks Volume 2, along with pianists Kris Davis, Matthew Shipp, and Aruán Ortiz. He is also a prolific session player who has appeared on more than 60 recordings and an in-demand live and touring musician.

Mitchell was born in Exton, Pennsylvania, and began playing the piano and studying music formally at age six. He started composing at ten. Two years later, he was taking lessons in jazz and theory at a university. He attended Indiana University for a time, and during the late 1990s he completed a master's degree at the Eastman School of Music and moved to New York. In 1999, he made first contact with Tim Berne to acquire some of his scores, but it would be years before he began collaborating with him. Mitchell returned to Philadelphia and worked in a library at The University of the Arts for nine years before leaving when his musical career demanded the lion's share of his time.

He began recording in 2006, issuing Vapor Squint, Antique Chromatic, and the collaborative Anastomosi with Drew Gress, Ralph Alessi, Biagio Coppa, and Shane Endsley. In 2011, the pianist led a sextet named Central Chain, and a year later began a trio with bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Dan Weiss. During this period, Mitchell had resumed contact with Berne and joined Snakeoil as well as John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble, Claudia Quintet, and the Dave Douglas Quintet. He was a 2012 recipient of a Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. In 2013, Fiction appeared as Mitchell's leader for Pi Recordings, which brought a new level of public awareness to his music-making.

Over the next couple of years, Mitchell stayed very busy. In addition to working in the outfits listed above, he played in Rudresh Mahanthappa's band for Bird Calls and recorded and toured with Darius Jones, Anna Webber, and Mario Pavone, among others. His double-length quartet offering Vista Accumulation was released on Pi in 2015 with Weiss, Tordini, and saxophonist Chris Speed. Greeted with universal acclaim from jazz critics and fans alike, it spread Mitchell's reputation even further. That same year, he won a Doris Duke Impact Award. While playing and recording claimed the majority of his time, Mitchell also taught extensively at School for Improvisational Music, as well as at the New School, NYU, and the Siena Jazz Workshop. He spent the next couple of years working with many of the aforementioned musicians live and in studio.

In 2017, he found time for three different Pi releases: Jonathan Finlayson Sicilian Defense's Moving Still, Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse for Morphogenesis, and his own provocative and unclassifiable large ensemble recording A Pouting Grimace, a ten-part suite extrapolated from a one-bar vamp. Conducted by Tyshawn Sorey, it featured numerous percussion instruments including Indian tablas, vibes, marimba, glockenspiel, and timpani, alongside an unusual range of horns including various flutes, sopranino saxophone, oboe, English horn, bassoon, bass saxophone, and contrabass clarinet.

Between 2017 and 2018, Mitchell played on recordings by Hollenbeck (All Can Work), Weiss (Starebaby), and Finlayson (3 Times Round). He also worked with Berne on the duo offering Angel Dusk and published several collections of his own études. In 2019, Mitchell proved prolific once more, appearing on recordings by Gordon Grdina, Caroline Davis, Webber, Pavone, and Sam Ospovat. In addition, he issued Phalanx Ambassadors on Pi in August. For the electro-acoustic jazz set of original compositions and improvs, his band included Okazaki, drummer Katie Gentile, vibraphonist Patricia Brennan, and bassist Kim Cass -- all but Okazaki had appeared on A Pouting Grimace. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

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