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Jazzmeia Horn: A Social Call

James Nadal By

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Coming from a gospel oriented family in Dallas, Texas, given a unique name and early tutelage by her piano playing grandmother, Jazzmeia Horn was destined to be a jazz singer. After relocating to New York City to pursue music studies, she went on to conquer the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition, topping that by winning the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition in 2015. All of this preparation and recognition has culminated in her debut release A Social Call, on the revived Prestige label, part of the Concord Music Group.

Personally involved in all aspects of the musician selection and production process, Horn decided on an acoustic small group format, which best presents her clear vocal articulation. The sessions have her voice smoothly integrating into the ensemble, becoming a supple instrument, and a musical extension of the band. Horn will readily admit to having a number of major influences, one being Betty Carter, whose "Tight," opens the set, a straight ahead showcase for her natural scatting, and ability to interact with saxophonist Stacy Dillard. The standard "East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)" is performed with the core band, with bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Jerome Jennings supporting pianist Victor Gould, who proves he is the ideal accompanist for this project. The trio shines on the quickened Johnny Mercer classic "I Remember You," and on the title track, Horns' voice transformed into pure bop expression. Adorned with sophisticated trumpet lines from Josh Evans, her rhythmic manipulation of the melody on the tranquil ballad "The Peacocks," captures her signature sound in all its splendor and grace.

The horn section of Evans on trumpet, trombonist Frank Lacy, and saxophonist Dillard, enhance the arrangement of "Up Above My Head," and provide the soulful background for the gospel meets jazz merger "Lift Every Voice And Sing/Moanin." Singing and scatting through moods, styles, and tempos, with inherent ease, Horn appears to enjoy the challenges in musical diversity. The standout three part medley "Afro Blue/Eye See You/ Wade In The Water," begins with Jennings on African percussion, while Horn improvises exotic incantations and nuances, leading into the lyrics. The middle section of "Eye See You," is a spoken word social commentary on conditions in the African-American experience; and the hymn "Wade In The Water," represents a soothing conclusion, drawing comfort and solace from Horns' gospel roots. In keeping with her contemporary leanings, she re-imagines the R&B hit "I'm Going Down," with a swinging jazz beat and a taste of neo-soul.

Exhibiting an advanced artistic development and confidence associated with more established performers, Jazzmeia Horn exudes an intense sense of purpose, and delivers an outstanding repertoire skillfully suited to her talent. Citing influences and mentors as vital in the process of becoming a musician, Horn was determined to find her own voice, and she has succeeded.

Track Listing: Tight; East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon); Up Above My Head; Social Call; People Make The World Go Round; Lift Every Voice And Sing/Moanin’; The Peacocks ( A Timeless Place); I Remember You; Medley: Afro Blue/Eye See You/Wade In The Water; I’m Going Down.

Personnel: Jazzmeia Horn: vocals; Victor Gould: piano; Ben Williams: bass; Jerome Jennings: drums, percussion; Stacy Dillard: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 5, 6, 10); Josh Evans: trumpet (3, 5, 6, 7, 10); Frank Lacy: trombone (3, 5, 6, 9, 10).

Title: A Social Call | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Prestige Records

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