New York-based performer Jazzmeia Horn is a gifted jazz vocalist with an inventive, scat-influenced style that helped her win both the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition and 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition. Following her Monk win, she released her Grammy-nominated 2017 debut album A Social Call. Born in Dallas, Texas in 1991, Horn grew up in a creative, spiritually minded family and was first introduced to singing by her grandmother, a gospel pianist with an abiding love of jazz. Although she sang from an early age, it wasn't until her teens and attending Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, that she developed an interest in jazz. Introduced to Sarah Vaughan by her composition class teacher, Horn fell in love with Vaughan's style and worked to learn her phrasing and inflection. From there, she began listening to other instrumentalists, including John Coltrane and Miles Davis. After high school, she honed her skills studying at Manhattan's New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. She already gained recognition as a formidable talent during her time in school, and took home several Down Beat student music awards. Graduating in 2009, Horn quickly immersed herself in the New York scene, performing alongside such luminaries as Billy Harper, Delfeayo Marsalis, Mike LeDonne, Peter Bernstein, Vincent Herring, and many more. Horn's profile rose significantly when she won Newark's 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition. Two years later, she solidified her place as a bona fide star after taking first place in the Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition. In 2017, as part of her Monk Competition prize, she released her debut full-length album, A Social Call, on Concord Records. She returned in 2019 with her sophomore album, Love & Liberation, which featured a cover of Erykah Badu's "Green Eyes." ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz - Released August 23, 2019 | Concord Jazz
Jazzmeia Horn is a supremely gifted jazz singer with a bright, resonant voice that she applies ably to soulful standards and vocalese numbers alike. It's a style that helped her win the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition, and which earned her a Grammy nomination for her 2017 debut, A Social Call. It's also a style that she further showcases to fine effect on her earthy sophomore album, 2019's Love & Liberation. Once again joining her are longtime associates pianist Victor Gould, bassist Ben Williams, drummer/vocalist Jamison Ross, saxophonist Stacy Dillard, and trumpeter Josh Evans. All of these musicians are virtuosos in their own right, and bring a richly ebullient improvisational energy to Horn's album. Opening with the buoyant, Betty Carter-esque "Free Your Mind," Love & Liberation has an organic quality that brings to mind the kind of jazz albums that emerged in the 1970s when artists were accenting their hard-swinging post-bop with soul and R&B influences. Reinforcing this aesthetic are Horn's cover choices including the bluesy Hubert Laws and Jon Hendricks song "No More" as well as her sensuously atmospheric reworking of Erykah Badu's "Green Eyes." Equally compelling is Horn's sultry duet with Ross on the George Duke and Rachelle Ferrell ballad "Reflections of My Heart." Horn also brings a distinctly empowered female perspective to Love & Liberation, drawing playfully upon her experience raising two daughters on "When I Say," and turning the male gaze on its head with the unrequited ballad "Legs and Arms." Elsewhere, Horn displays her knack for crafting highly memorable originals as on the bright swinger "Out the Window" and the equally propulsive "Searchin'," which spotlights her dynamic vocalese improvisational skills. Similarly, she dives into the cheeky blues of "Still Tryin'" and continues to prove her straight-ahead jazz chops with an urbane reading of the standard "I Thought About You." ~ Matt Collar
Jazz - Released May 12, 2017 | Prestige
On her debut album, 2017's A Social Call, 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition winner Jazzmeia Horn reveals herself as a virtuoso performer in command of a very powerful instrument. A native of Dallas, Texas, Horn studied at Manhattan's The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music before launching her professional career. While deeply indebted to the warm, agile sound of legendary vocalist Sarah Vaughan (in fact, Horn also won the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition), she displays a forceful sense of personal identity, both creatively and philosophically, on A Social Call. Helping to color this view are Horn's bandmates, who include pianist Victor Gould, bassist Ben Williams, drummer Jerome Jennings, saxophonist Stacy Dillard, trumpeter Josh Evans, and trombonist Frank Lacy. Together, they play with an edgy sophistication and openness to improvisation that speak to Horn's own instrumental abilities, which often find her commanding the solo spotlight as she does on her brisk reading of "I Remember You." Produced by Horn and Concord Records' Chris Dunn, A Social Call showcases Horn on a set of well-curated standards that, while landing firmly in the straight-ahead acoustic jazz tradition, nonetheless highlight her progressive, humanistic worldview. It's a holistic approach perhaps best encompassed on her soulful mid-album reworking of the Stylistics' "People Make the World Go Round." Anchored by a funky bass riff, the song starts with Horn's spoken word piece, detailing many of her societal concerns, from environmental pollution and crime to racism, poverty, and the abuses of the meat industry. From there, the song opens up into a frenetically knotty, free-form section in which Horn's band lets loose with an impassioned post-bop group improv before launching back into the singer’s fluid reading of the main melody. It's an utterly commanding performance, evoking the forward-thinking, politically minded work of a latter-day Nina Simone. That she immediately follows up with an effusive mash-up of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "Moanin'" only works to juxtapose her immense, broadly encompassing talent. Elsewhere, she soars through Betty Carter's "Tight," offers a lithe, honey-coated take on "East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)," and displays her unfettered, instrumental-like vocal abilities on an expansive, Afro-Latin-inflected medley of "Afro Blue/Eye See You/Wade in the Water." Pregnant with her daughter during the recording process (and pictured as such in the inside sleeve, with the Earth superimposed on her belly), Horn's Titanic vocal skills are matched by her depth of character and artistic purpose; all of which inform A Social Call. ~ Matt Collar
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