Listening to bandleader/composer Jihye Lee and her mic-drop orchestra is like watching your life flash before your eyes. You see it all: All the richness of spirit one can attain. All the sadness one can espouse. All the waltzing mischief to which one can aspire.
Testing malleability at every turn, Lee's on to an eclectic something that doesn't pass through the torpor too often: A lucid, active imagination. Thus Daring Mind, Lee's Motema Music debut, co-produced by Darcy James Argue serves not only as a triumphant successor to 2017's heralded, self-produced April, it plays as a buoyant drama, a roaming investigation that swells and swales in all the right places, ie: "Relentless Mind." The BMI Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize-winning original, "Unshakeable Mind" is percussive, romantic, and born of Brooklyn. "I Dare You It" dips, dives and squawks. Lee's second award winner, "Revived Mind" is an Asian lullaby child's dance with a Disney tilt. Trumpeter Sean Jones marks his territory with a lean, summoning tone, most notably on the defining "Struggle Gives You Strength," a Duke Ellington scion if ever ever there was one.
The bluesy "Why Is That" sets up the cliff-jumping "Dissatisfied Mind" which, once you dust yourself up from the landing, steers you into a Manhattan rush hour just as the grid goes down and all the lights go out. If it sounds like a panic it is, but Lee's insistence on a steadfast harmonic core holds steady. And you hold course steadily too, into the lysergic, vista-vision swirls of Daring Mind's closing valediction, "GB."
Relentless Mind; Unshakeable Mind; Suji; I Dare You; Revived Mind; Struggle Gives You Strength; Why Is That; Dissatisfied Mind; GB.