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Mimi Jones: Balance

C. Michael Bailey By

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NYC-native bassist-raconteur Mimi Jones founded Hot Tone records in 2009, releasing her debut, A New Day. Jones states the label ..."was created to give chances to those who may have been overlooked and denied the necessary support and knowledge to develop." Specifically, and appropriately, the focus of the label has evolved as a resource for women jazz instrumentalists. After an incubation period of five years, Hot Tone records detonates with the release of Jones' second effort as a leader, Balance. Two additional names need be mentioned with regards to Balance as they appear on Jones' recording and have same label releases themselves: multireedist Camille Thurman and drummer/percussionist Shirazette Tinnin. These artists have much to say, indeed.

Jazz has been in a state of kinetic flux since the late 1960s, expanding at an accelerated rate like the universe is thought to do. Balance is very much a synthesis of jazz genres as well as a heaped helping of pop, soul and R&B, mixing and making what is produced here. While this is not new, this synthesis manifests fully developed in Jones' musical vision. She goes a long way to effecting a homogeneous musical stream drawing from and assimilating all previous influences. This reflects the rich musical environment in which Jones grew up and the direction in her music studies.

Balance addresses the recent questions of jazz's viability (a la Robert Glasper) very definitively. Jones seamlessly combines different musical styles and genre into a potent solution of music where all these elements can still be detected while new aspects of the elements are illuminated. Jones opens the disc with her performance of Bob Dorough's "Nothing Like You" (featured as a sore thumb on Miles Davis' Sorcerer (Columbia, 1967). Rather than sing the Fran Landesman lyrics as Esperanza Spalding has in recent performances, Jones plays the melody arco while husband/pianist Luis Perdomo weaves asymmetric filigree about the standard composition.

Jones' sings on "Traveler," revealing a voice with a greater liquid elasticity than Betty Carter's while still remaining within the lines of the listenable. "Speedbump" features a cameo by trumpeter Ingrid Jensen who plays her best Freddie Hubbard in the 4/4 sections and her best Tom Harrell in the rest. Of course she is all Ingrid Jensen and she also appears on "The Edge of a Circle." Thurman provides flute and vocals on "Everyone Loves Sunshine" and "Junk Funk," both lengthy reveries on sound and time. Tinnin provides drums for the former, showing that her and Thurman's releases are worthy of attention. This music comes from and is in a very good place. It is vibrantly alive, exhaling only positive vibes.

Track Listing: Nothing Like You; Traveler; Speedbump; The Incy Wincy Spider; The Spinning Tree; Patriot; Someone Like You; To Be; The Edge of a Circle; Everyone Loves Sunshine; Junk Funk; Dream.

Personnel: Mimi Jones: bass, vocals; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet; Camille Thurman: flute, vocals; Luis Perdomo: piano; Wurlitzer, Rhodes, Moog; Enoch Smith, Jr.: piano; Miki Hayama: piano; Wurlitzer, Rhodes; Marvin Sewell: guitar, piano; Sean Harkness: guitars; Shirazette Tinnin: drums, percussion; Justin Faulkner: drums; Mala Waldron: vocals.

Title: Balance | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Hot Tone Music


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