Dear Love is the latest album release from jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn. It differs from Social Call and Love & Liberation in that it sees Jazzmeia fronting a Big Band – one of the first times since Blanche Calloway that a black female vocalist has written and fronted a big band album in its entirety. Dear Love, addresses three specific aspects of Jazzmeia’s existence: her community, her lover, and herself. The album consists of fourteen tracks some of which are infused with poetry and spoken word – it is the first time that these proponents of Jazzmeia’s creative talents feature on her recorded work.
‘I Feel You Near’ is a spoken word piece over a baritone sax backing and a driving percussion. Jazzmeia has a warm tone to her voice that makes this opening track very easy to listen to. Track two acts as an introduction to ‘He Could Be Perfect’, clearly a song about her lover. The backing on this number is terrific, I particularly enjoyed the bass playing of Eric Wheeler. This is a classic big band sound and the glissando ending an absolute joy to listen to. ‘He’s My Guy’ continues the theme with more great melody from the sax department. Drummer Anwar Marshall really works his kit and Keith Brown on piano matches him all the way. The vocals are clear, strong, and so controlled over the vocal range – there is a sustained high note that is a jaw dropping moment on the first hearing.
‘Let Us (Take Our Time)’ slows the tempo and has an intimate feel to it. The use of varied pitch and the spoken word section by Jazzmeia, with the wonderful trumpet sound of Freddie Hendrix, make this track standout. Mention also must go to pianist Keith Brown whose accompaniment is well placed across the eight minutes of this very enjoyable number (see video at the end of this post). ‘Lover Come Back to Me’ is a bright, energetic, upbeat tune with a great bass line, scatting, and horns. For me, this just about edges it as the album’s standout tune but it has strong competition.
‘Money Can’t Buy Me Love’ makes use of a spoken word section supported by the piano of Keith Brown. This track is unmistakeably American in style and takes its inspiration from the great Soul music that has been produced in the USA – the added string section on this track give the melody a certain Je ne sais quoi. ‘Nia’ continues with the Soul vibe and is a good example of Jazzmeia’s storytelling through her lyrics. The horn section and drumming are very good throughout and there is the most wonderful sax solo to enjoy.
‘Strive (To Be)’ has a processional quality to it (the word I wrote during my initial listen through was Cleopatra). The track is the longest on the album at around eleven minutes and it certainly stirs the soul. There is a real power and energy in this number, always controlled but palpable throughout. All the vitality of ‘Strive (To Be)’ is assuaged by ‘Where We Are’, which has a gentler melodic line augmented by the string section.
The trumpets announce the arrival of ‘Judah Rise’, the only tune not to feature the vocals of Jazzmeia Horn. This track stands out because it is so different to everything else on the album but, I would guess, highlights the importance of her personal spiritual beliefs that it had to be included. ‘Where Is Freedom!?’ closes out the album and begins with Sullivan Fortner on the organ, and a great bass line. This is joyous jazz/funk number with a strong gospel feel to it. This is a wonderful tune on which to finish Dear Love – the trombone sound is so good!
This album is different to the previous two and that is no bad thing. I enjoyed the use of the various musical styles across the fourteen tracks and this approach highlights just how good a vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is.
Jazzmeia’s grandmother, Harriet Horn (who gave [the singer] her name, played the piano and sang as the first lady of the church), was a great inspiration and set Jazzmeia on a course that helped her to become the leading artist that she is today. The gospel overtones are apparent in Jazzmeia’s work and provide yet another interesting slant to the music that she creates.Press release from Dynamic Agency
There is little doubt that Jazzmeia Horn is a “leading artist” of today and has the potential to become a “jazz great” of tomorrow. What will be interesting to see is where her influences take her next. I look forward with keen anticipation to her next project with the same excitement I had for Dear Love and that excitement has been rewarded with a great sound and energy.
Dear Love released 10 September, 2021
1. I Feel You Near. 2. Be Perfect (vocal Interlude). 3. He Could be Perfect. 4. He’s My Guy 5. Let Us (Take Our Time). 6. Back to Me (vocal Interlude). 7. Lover Come Back to Me. 8. Money Can’t Buy Me Love. 9. Nia. 10. Strive (vocal Interlude). 11. Strive (To Be). 12. Where We Are. 13. Judah Rise. 14. Where is Freedom!?
Jazzmeia Horn – vocalist, composer, arranger; Keith Brown – piano; Eric Wheeler – bass; Anwar Marshall – drums; Bruce Williams – alto sax; Keith Loftis & Anthony Ware – tenor sax;
Jason Marshall – baritone sax; Freddie Hendrix, Bruce Harris & Josh Evans – trumpet Dion Tucker, Cory Wilcox & Max Siegel – trombone; Tia Allen – viola; Chiara Fasi & Eddie Findiesen – violin; Dara Hankins – cello; Khalil Bell – percussion; Sullivan Fortner – Organ & musical director.