“The third solo album of Colette Michaan, Incarnate/Encarna—the second, since her amazing album Querencia—is a notable achievement on various levels. The team of pianist and arranger Pablo Vergara, the quintessential trombonist Ruet Regev, violinist Mireya Ramos, sensational harmonica player Grégoire Maret, bassist Jorge Bringas, percussionists Román Díaz, Luisito Quintero, Yusnier Sánchez Bustamante and drummer Harvey Wirht as well as Fernando Aponte, Akihiro Nishimura and Tim Marchiafava (engineers), photographer Erin O’Brien and graphic designer Andrea von Bujdoss have combined to produce an album of lasting beauty. The nine tracks are quite fascinating, the title track and “Wisdom” are two of the most brilliant leaving you with the distinct impression of impassioned, whimsical improvisations, while “Identidad,” featuring extraordinary work by Ms. Regev, is another one of those joyous songs that stick in the mind like a proverbial and welcome burr. The latter is boldly experimental with passages of prescient Colette Michaan.
It is true that not all of the music is as intriguing as “Intention” and “Obatalá,” but it is all, nevertheless one more beautiful than the other. Ms. Michaan’s flute playing is at times profound and haunting (as on “Wisdom”) and lively (as on “Obatalá” and “Rico Melao”). At times her mighty flights of fancy are lithe and quite extraordinary and she is full of surprises throughout the album. Her way with the music shows an overall sense of gentleness and soft-grained beauty. Everywhere her finger-work makes for gracious and rounded accounts of the music, especially on the slower, more contemplative music. On this music, especially in exchanges with Ms. Regev, there is a rhapsodic narrative at play. The skills of both players show more pronounced rhythmic verve, textural variety and dynamism. In other words the two women paint in bold, primary colours, whereas the pianist, Mr. Vergara favours pastels. Between the three of them, the tapered phrases of “Wisdom” appear beautifully amorphous and the pulse of the rhythm renders the piece’s dreamy subtext with utter beauty.
A strong case can be made for this being the finest album of Colette Michaan’s young career. Clearly the music and its exquisite arrangements are in very good hands here. The musicians assert their own ingenuity with great impact. This is especially true of Abbey Lincoln’s marvelous piece “Throw It Away”. Ms. Michaan in particular plays the melody with terrific panache and captures the music’s texturally intricate writing, (shared with considerable genius by the percussionists) allied to a sensitive awareness of the varied palette of the keyboard colour. She also conveys the music’s eloquent energy, which carries the ear convincingly through those passages that the composer felt could not be dispensed with. The last few tracks—not unlike the others, of course, but perhaps more emphatically so—are given a firm dramatic thrust and character by Ms. Michaan and Ms. Regev. Of these “Innocence” is spritely and played with heartfelt introspection. Throughout the album Colette Michaan’s sound is bold and exemplary and I can hardly wait to hear what she will do next with her ardent and dazzling virtuosity and heartfelt emotion." — Raul De Gama/Latin Jazz Network
“The Colette Michaan Quintet graced the Madison Jazz Series with a swirling, revelatory performance culled from the realms of folklore, festival, street, and deep wells of universal spirituality. The generosity of spirit and joyful camaraderie within this band was lavishly contagious. Michaan repeatedly alluded to her mission to mine wisdom and peace from music, and that was manifested in prayerful meditations as well as volcanic torso-shakers. On many of the son numbers Michaan’s flute dabbed with the beneficent authority of a pointillist painter. A dab here, a dab there, coalesced into insistent statements that rode above the rhythm. Her flute served to lasso runaway congas and wayward piano lines, and corral them. There was mandate in her voicing.Whether in her whistling registers, breathy modes, or pugnacious pokes, a plain-spokenness summoned our attention.” — Joe Major/Albany Jazz April 2016
“Flutist/composer Colette Michaan’s third release brings a refreshing take to the music industry.” — The Birmingham Times
“Colette Michaan is one of a growing number of artists who are combining jazz with a variety of world genres to produce music of great freshness and broad appeal. It takes a skillful hand to pull it off, and Michaan has done just that, producing a recording of both panache and sensitivity. Michaan has taken the Cuban sensibilities and techniques possessed by these musicians and blended them with her unique voice on the flute to produce jazz with a tinge of both Latin rhythm and Eastern spices and perfumes. Michaan excels, contributing precise leads and solo work that shows off her sense of adventure with an appealing clarity of execution. Down Beat Magazine has a poll that includes the category Talent Deserving Wider Recognition. If anyone deserves wider recognition it is Colette Michaan.” — Peter Westbrook/The Flute Journal
“La pasión por la música de Colette esta impregnada en esta producción la cual nos remonta a la época de la Charanga y nos hace recordar a grandes como Pacheco, Alfredo de la Fe, y Néstor Torres.” — Ritmomania Entertainment
"How about a change of pace? Enter Colette Michaan. In a genre dominated by pianos, saxophones and guitars, it’s refreshing to hear a flutist as leader. Michaan presents Incarnate Encarna." — The Jazz Writer
“This gorgeous session is an exquisite blend of hard driving charanga, montuno, Latin jazz and Arabian influenced dance music. Colette Michaan, a first generation American of Egyptian descent, who was born and raised in New York City, has provided us with an unexpected gem for the New Year. Think Orchestra Rytmo Africa-Cubana (Alfredo de la Fe, Nestor Torres) meets Africando meets Rabih Abou-Khalil.” — El Watusi
“Le son montuno de Cuba et le latin jazz de cette formation dirigée par la talentueuse Colette Michaan ont trouvé refuge en Afrique via les porte-étendards des différents segments du patrimoine musical Gnaoui pour enchanter un public éclectique.” — L'opinion
"It’s clear this group knows what they are doing: experimenting with rhythms but keeping it danceable. It’s a win – win for all." — Salsa Power