Mimi Fox – Live At The Palladium (2011)

by | May 24, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Mimi Fox – Live At The Palladium (2011)

Performers: Mimi Fox – guitar; Chris Enghauser – bass; Akira Tana – drums
Program: Blues For 2; Stella By Starlight; Pack Of Lies; Roses In January; Triste; Polka Dots And
Moonbeams; Yardbird Suite; My Romance; Caravan; Lullaby Of The Leaves; Bonus: Interview
Director: Charles R. Diaz
Studio: Favored Nations FN2710-9
Video: 16:9 color, Region 1
Audio: English Stereo PCM
Length: 60 minutes
Rating ****1/2

Mimi Fox is becoming a household name in the jazz community. As a widely-respected session player, she has played with Branford Marsalis, Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder, Charlie Byrd, Stanley Jordan, Abbey Lincoln and Dr. Lonnie Smith. She is regarded as a guitar master by various trade publications, as well as her peers. Her influences are varied and eclectic, ranging from Joni Mitchell to John Coltrane. Numerous awards, prestigious grants and opportunities to write for orchestras, film documentaries and dance troupes have enhanced her stature. Additionally, she has taught at the Jazz School in Berkeley and New York University. With nine albums to her credit, and a constant touring schedule, her legacy is being delivered on a world stage. Her 2006 release on Favored Nations, Perpetually Hip, was a breakthrough 2-CD project, emphasizing Fox’s ensemble and solo work.

Mimi Fox Live At The Palladium is a detailed glimpse into the creative artistry of this performer. Captured over two nights, there is a discerning mix of covers and original compositions. The opening track, “Blues For 2" (an original song) has a simmering guitar hook that blends with a walking bass and understated drumming. Fox’s solos and rhythm chords are precise and fluid. A finger snapping version of “Stella By Starlight” is a stellar improvisation piece and details Fox’s propensity for interpretation. There are many other standards that are covered with a deft touch. “Polka Dots And Moonbeams” (Burke/Van Heusen), a vocal favorite is reinvented as a lithe solo opus. The same dynamic animates “Lullaby Of The Leaves” (Petkere/Young). Fox has a great feel for melodic nuances and manages to lend some intensity with her runs. Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite” swings with graceful movement. Percussionist Tana adds a nice touch on brush drum. Fox’s affinity for traditional jazz is evident on the Tizol/Ellington classic, “Caravan”. The complex exotic melody is preserved in the different key shifts and riffs. Enghauser’s bass is solid and maintains a steady pulse.

Whether in original tunes like “Pack Of Lies” or “Roses in January” or recognizable pieces like “My Romance” (Hart, Rogers) or “Triste” (Antonio Carlos Jobim), her expressive technique brings a fresh aesthetic. The camera work is unassuming, concentrating on the technical movements and body mannerisms of Fox. In a bonus interview segment, the guitarist discusses her views on the history of jazz, emotional aspects of playing and interaction with musicians.  This DVD encapsulates the passion of a modern jazz pioneer.

–Robbie Gerson

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