Jazzmeia's Virtuosity Befits Name

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Sunday May 21, 2017

From Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Jazzmeia’s virtuosity befits name
By: Ellis Widner

Lovers of great singers such as Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter and Nina Simone will find in Horn a thrilling new voice in American music. There are undeniable connections to the music of the ’50s and ’60s in her excellent band and Horn’s fluid, lightning-paced scat singing that makes Carter’s “Tight” such a thrill.

But Horn is a singular artist with a vision. Yes, she sings standards, but she’s not a revivalist. Her music is edgy at times, but very sophisticated, straight-ahead jazz. She mesmerizes on refreshing takes of “East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)” and Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You.” She broadens her palette with more contemporary material such as her haunting delivery of Jimmy Rowles and Norma Winstone’s exquisite “The Peacocks (A Timeless Place)” and Norman Whitfield’s “I’m Going Down.”

On The Stylistics’ 1972 hit “People Make the World Go Round,” Ben Williams’ hypnotic bass sets the foundation for a spoken word segment that mentions many of Horn’s social concerns: pollution, crime, poverty, racism and more … things that hold people back. Then, the band kicks in with a killer bop-flavored improvisation that leads back to Horn’s voice soaring with the band’s feverish, passionate playing.

Two fabulous medleys stand out: “Lift Every Voice and Sing/Moanin’” (the latter popularized by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross) and a breathtaking “Afro Blue/Eye See You/Wade in the Water,” which will take your breath away.

Jazzmeia is the Dallas native’s real name, which came from her jazz-loving grandmother. Grandma nailed it. There’s not a wasted note on this exceptional recording by a truly virtuoso talent.

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