Mimi Fox: Getting Her Due


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AAJ: Who on the scene today excites you as a musician?

MF: Let's see... guitarist-wise, there are a number of people who are still really jazzing me up, and one of them is Jim Hall, who's become a friend of mine. He contacted me after he heard one of my CDs and sent me the most loving note; it was like I was receiving something from a long-lost uncle. We've been friends ever since. He's a brilliant musician — he's really an architect when he plays, so incredibly musical and structurally developed. I also love Kenny Burrell. He's someone I played with recently down in LA for a Heritage Guitar night, because I'm an endorsee and so is Kenny. He's a great guy. I love Russell Malone, who's become a good friend of mine. A not as well-known player who deserves more accolades than he gets is John Stowell. A very unassuming person, with a very unusual style. He's from Portland, Oregon, but he does make it down here periodically. I love some of the stuff that Jimmy Bruno and Joe Beck have done. They have some wonderful guitar duet stuff that's totally smokin'.

When you go into other instruments it's a whole new field... Joe Lovano; Christian McBride plays his buns off.

AAJ: It sounds like you do a lot of listening.

MF: I do. Part of my job description as a jazz musician is to listen as much as I can.

AAJ: You've worked in a wide range of settings. Is there anything you really want to try that you just haven't had the opportunity to do yet?

MF: I've been pretty lucky. I've gotten to do a lot of things. A few years ago, I performed some of my acoustic guitar pieces with a chamber orchestra. I have had contact with a fellow from Seattle, to possibly do some of my original scores with a full symphony orchestra. If that happened, it would just be a deeper level. Getting to arrange and perform in that capacity would be wonderful.

Also, there are some composers I would love to collaborate with: Mary Watkins, a wonderful Bay Area composer — we've actually talked about collaborating and composing a sort of jazz guitar symphony together, so it would be more orchestral, but written for jazz guitar, not something that I would have to adapt. We've sort of rolled that around, and again dealing with orchestras, and funding, and other various issues have hung it up, but that would be something I'd love to do.

And I think there are some other players on the scene I'd love to play with. Jeff "Tain" Watts and Christian McBride would be a "dream team" rhythm section for me. There's a lot of players I'd like to work with, but those guys are pretty high on my list.

AAJ: Were the orchestral pieces written with a large ensemble in mind?

MF: I've adapted some of the acoustic guitar pieces I've written which blend jazz and classical influences. They were written as solo guitar pieces, but they're highly adaptable for orchestra. I wrote out all the parts when I worked with the chamber orchestra, which was basically strings and percussion; a fairly small orchestral setting. For a larger scale, I'd like to collaborate with someone. Mary Watkins and I talked about doing something with a socio-political bent, since she's African-American and I'm Jewish, blending our varied histories as peoples and being a real force for healing. There's been some damage between those two communities over the years, and we think there's an opportunity to do some healing on a musical level. So that was another idea, to be broad in scope both artistically and socially.

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