Jazzmeia Horn is aptly named. Blessed with a bell-like clarity of timbre, assured command of her soprano voice and a playful, technically polished ability to scat, the 26-year-old makes her debut with an album that is a bright statement of arrival.
Since she won the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition and conquered the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, the jazz world has been anticipating this album.
Released on Concord Music Group's Prestige label, A Social Call is slick and snazzy, with a programme that offers this young talent a chance to put her stamp on jazz standards, as well as on a smattering of R&B and gospel numbers.
The title track, a jazz standard, is delivered with dapper delight, with pianist Victor Gould's lovely bubbling accompaniment supplemented by drummer Jerome Jennings' fizzy brushes propelling the melody with brittle, sweet sophistication.
Horn's penchant for bending notes a la Betty Carter is on full flight on the opening track, Tight, and her bright scatting on a double-quick-time take of Johnny Mercer's I'll Remember You brings to mind Ella Fitzgerald's effortless vocalisations.
A serious political spoken word introduction to the Stylistics' People Make The World Go Round is the one weak spot. She might need a bit of work on her approach, but voice-wise, this album is flawless. A bright new jazz talent to watch in the coming years.
A SOCIAL CALL
Ong Sor Fern
There are different ways of approaching piano concertos, either regarding them as orchestral works with virtuoso piano parts integrated within the formal architecture, or as chamber music with the solo pianist in the driving seat.
THE CHAMBER VERSIONS
Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4
See Siang Wong, piano
Gemeaux Quartet et al
RCA Red Seal 88875061442
This interesting new recording by Dutch-Chinese pianist See Siang Wong hews to the latter viewpoint, with two popular piano concertos sounding like new works in the process.
Richard Hofmann's transcription of Chopin's First Piano Concerto does not significantly alter the solo piano part. However, there are surprises when the piano is heard with the string quintet (two violins, viola, cello and double bass) in the tutti sections.
Wong and his chamber partners play a radically different version of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, which combines Vinzenz Lachner's string reduction of the orchestra with a little-known piano score edited by violinist Franz Possinger, which was first performed at a private concert in 1807. The piano part sounds more improvisatory and virtuosic than the published version that listeners know today.
The performances here are highly idiomatic and sympathetic and, even if they provide a mild shock to the senses, the departure for paths less trodden is well worth the time.
Chang Tou Liang