Hot Tone Music: Creating Great Music of Today

Jakob Baekgaard By

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Hot Tone Music has already begun to establish itself as a label. When asked about advice for those who consider starting a record label, Jones says: "I definitely recommend studying some form of music business and business in general. It's important to create a road map from start to finish aka business plan. Try to stick as close as possible to the plan. Remember in the studio more is less, in relation to music, time and ultimately money. Here is a checklist for when one is considering recording an artist or project:

1. Rehearse outside the studio, reserve the studio for experimenting and laying down ideas.

2. Try and get a lock out rate.

3. Do your due diligence about the engineer you plan to use

4. Bring references of how you'd like to sound to help the engineer find your desired sound faster.

5. Remember to feed & water your group and take in consideration allergies, no one plays well thinking about food.

6. The bigger the band or as many instruments that you incorporate in the recording session the more time it will take to mix later, which is in real time.

7. Bring 2 sets of hard drives and make sure the engineer is clearly labeling your session.

8. Budget for rehearsals, recording date, editing, mixing, mastering, artwork publicist, radio promotions, distribution and do not skimp on art work and the sound.

9. Keep new recording in the vault until launch date.

10. Remember it sometimes takes a few recordings before the artists start to get major play so do it for the love.

If you are a working musician definitely learn to delegate. Hire responsible interns and surround yourself with like minds, and be prepared for the duo reality of being flexible yet staying close to the business plan. It's like two completely different aesthetics, the creative side meets the logical/practical side.

It's also good to know investors who love the arts, and definitely do it for the love of music."

When asked about her ambitions for her own label, Jones says: "I think if we had 20 successful artist out, this would be a beautiful success. We are developing artists as well so it's more than just making records. This takes time so I think 20 is enough for now. We also ask the artist to look out for other upcoming artists and to pay it forward, and keep the energy circulating."

So far, the release schedule is set with three titles coming in spring 2015 and the artists on Hot Tone Music can be heard live almost everywhere: "We play literally all over the place, Canada, LA, Bronx, Russia, Switzerland, South Africa (laughs out loud). But we will be featured at the Philadelphia Museum on March 14th, 2014, and I do a weekly show at 24 east 81st street every Sunday at "Crown," and a monthly show at Bar Thalia at the symphony Space NYC."

Asked about the highlight in the history of the label so far, Jones says: "Looking back knowing that we were able to create something together from a dream, through thick and thin, we are all still together and alive to celebrate."

Indeed, there is also cause for celebration when listening to the three releases that came in early February 2014 to mark the arrival of the label.

Shirazette Tinnin
Humility: Purity of My Soul

There's no doubt from the very first bar of Shirazette Tinnin's powerful musical statement Humility: Purity of My Soul that it is an album that has a drummer as a leader. Things are set in motion with a poignant double attack from Tinnin's kit and Jhair Sala's percussion before bassist Tom DiCarlo enters the groove with keyboard-players Rachel Eckroth and Willerm Delisfort. Flying on top is Camille Thurman's saxophone as the piece ebbs and flows through different states of emotion.
The album is full of organic grooves where the boundaries between soul, jazz and world music start to blur. McCoy Tyner's classic composition "Passion Dance" receives a strong reading from the group, with Thurman showing her chops on the saxophone. She also underlines what a great vocalist she is on the r & b-influenced "Jazzmine" with bubbling Fender Rhodes. Here, Thurman replaces her solo flights on the saxophone with some spiraling scat-singing on a composition that is all about the fragility and beauty of life.

While Thurman remains a forceful voice throughout the album, the manifold rhythms of Tinnin are the foundation of the album. She sings and dances through the drum set and reaches out to all corners of the world with her music, but it is also an inner journey where basic human emotions are communicated. A spiritual groove on the album is called "My Human Condition" and in a way this title sums up an album that is both deeply personal and reflects the general human condition of struggle, anger, sorrow, joy and gratitude for being alive.

Camille Thurman

Saxophonist and singer Camille Thurman has a strong presence on Shirazette Tinnin's Humility: Purity of My Soul and on her own album Origins she steps into the spotlight. Like Tinin, she has created a musical autobiography. A portrait of the artist as a young woman.

On "Change of Mind," Thurman sings about her own changes. She studied geology before she chose the pathway of music, but the connection to the soil is still there. There is tactility and earthiness in her playing. She treats music like organic material that is shaped through her horn and voice.

Whether singing wordless a cappella on "Anna's Joy" or blowing epically in the horn in the tradition of the great tenor- players like Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, Thurman stays grounded and never loses the connection to the basic human feelings that make musical stories worth hearing. She has the technique of the best, but, more importantly, she plays like someone who has a story to tell.

Another commendable thing about the album is the stylistic curiosity and attention to little details, like the effective use of a harp on "The Dreamweaverer" and the original take on the bossa nova on "Indigo Moments."

Thurman is still in the early stages of her life as an artist, but Origins underlines that she is already an experienced musician that has absorbed many influences and not least created a musical voice of her own. The album is an achievement in itself, but also the blueprint for a brilliant musical career.

Mimi Jones

As owner and artistic director of Hot Tone Music, Mimi Jones is the person that binds all the releases on the label together, but her secret is that she doesn't act as a traditional label boss. Hot Tone Music feels like a genuine collective of like- minded musicians with their own stories to tell.

The artists on Hot Tone Music play on each other releases and there are similarities in sound and aesthetic, but each album ends up as unique work of art. This is also the case with Jones' second album: Balance.

The album brings together the three key artists on Hot Tone Music: Mimi Jones, Shirazette Tinnin and Camille Thurman, but there are also many other contributing voices on what amounts to an epic album, covering everything from hard swinging bop on "Nothing Like You" to stylish piano pop with a taste of r& b on "Dream." In between there is everything from the atmospheric noir balladry of "Traveler" and the sophisticated soul of "Junk Funk."

It is an ambitious musical narrative, but in the end, all the threads come together and form a whole, a musical painting with intricate motifs and nuances. Jones is even able to transform a familiar children's song, "The Incy Wincy Spider," into a finely textured existential ballad that suddenly swings with silky elegance.

The albums on Hot Tone Music signal the arrival of a strong group of artists that are in it for the long haul. The music on the label reflects a fresh and contemporary sound that isn't afraid to challenge the firm foundation of genres, but still retains a deep spirituality and timeless beauty.

Tracks and Personnel

Humility: Purity of My Soul

Tracks: Her Power Locs; Passion Dance; God's Lullaby; The Warmest Season; Jazzmine; Freedom Jazz Dance; Aunt Sissy; My Human Condition; Inner Frustration.

Personnel: Shirazette Tinnin: drums; Tom DiCarlo: bass (1, 2, 5, 9); Willerm Delisfort: piano (1, 2, 3, 6, 8); Rachel Eckroth: piano (4, 7, 9), Nord Keyboard (1, 5, 6, 8); Camille Thurman: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9), vocals (5); Seth Johnson: guitar (4, 6, 8, 9); Jhair Sala: percussion (1, 4, 6); Mimi Jones: bass (3, 6, 7); Afrikkanitha: vocals (4); Martell Akade: electric bass (8); Tia Fuller: alto saxophone (8); Amanda Ruzza: electric bass (4).


Tracks: Forward Motion; A Change of Mind; Indigo Moments; Origins; The Dreamweaverer; Anna's Joy; In Due Time; Kindred Minds; Felix's Groove; Jitterbug Waltz; Pursuit With a Purpose; Please be Kind; Revisiting The Past.

Personnel: Camille Thurman: saxophones, flutes, vocals; Enoch Smith, Jr.: piano; Luis Perdomo: piano, Corcoran Holt: bass; Rudy Royston: drums; Shirazette Tinnin: drums and cajon; Brandee Younger: harp.


Tracks: 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.

Photo Credit

Chris Boliwas



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