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Thursday May 25, 2017

From All About Jazz

Jazzmeia Horn: A Social Call
By: James Nadal

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…

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