Flutist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, and drummer Mike Reed initially formed Artifacts as a repertory group; the music on their 2015 debut album, Artifacts (482 Music), includes compositions by founding or early members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, among them Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Amina Claudine Myers, and Roscoe Mitchell. But it was probably inevitable that they’d delve into original material, since everyone in the trio is an established bandleader and composer and therefore keenly aware of the resources on hand. The title of their second recording, . . . And Then There’s This, telegraphs the shift; everyone writes, and they seem to have designed their compositions to show off one another’s strengths. Reed’s “Pleasure Palace” is simultaneously spacious and funky; the cello’s cascading figures complement both the drumming’s forceful, rock-ish feel and the flute’s incantatory phrasing. Reid’s “Song for Helena” opens with a chamber music-style unison passage before handing Mitchell another opportunity to flex the voicelike quality of her playing. And the flutist’s “Reflections” toggles between intricate three-part constructions and riffing punctuations enlivened by Reed’s light, decorative accents. Despite the change in direction between records, Artifacts have not forgotten their founding impulse. The material on . . . And Then There’s This also includes pieces by Roscoe Mitchell and Muhal Richard Abrams, and a pair of atmospheric group improvisations are dedicated to Joseph Jarman and Alvin Fielder, AACM members who’ve passed on since the trio’s foundation.
Artifacts’ . . . And Then There’s This is available on Bandcamp.