Jazzmeia Horn at Jazz Standard 3/2/18 (by Sami Stevens)

PERSONNEL: Jazzmeia Horn (vocals), Victor Gould (piano), Barry Stephenson (bass), Henry Conerway III (drums), Marcus Miller (saxophone)

SET LIST: Tight (Carter), I Didn’t Know What Time it Was (Rodgers/Hart), I Remember You (Schertzinger/Mercer, Arr. Horn), The Peacocks (Rowles/Winstone), Night and Day (Porter)

HIGHLIGHTS: Horn turned “Night and Day” into a stream-of-consciousness flow of self-love.


Jazzmeia Horn was personable and relaxed right from the top of Betty Carter’s “Tight.”  She is an inheritor of the Carter tradition: chewing her words in a playful manner, possessing a seemingly spoken phrasing style, while maintaining nearly covert rhythmic complexity, very much one with her band.

“I Didn’t Know What Time it Was” began with just bass and voice, the grid still clear and swinging. When the band eventually came in the interpretation continued to be inventive and fun. Marcus Miller (not the famous bassist) seemed to be cut from just the same natural cloth as Horn: the voice and alto trades felt like a fluid exchange of ideas.

Horn’s complex arrangement of “I Remember You” featured quick hits underneath the singer’s low-key rhythmic intricacy. Victor Gould was a supportive accompanist, offering encouraging and provocative ideas without intrusive ego. Barry Stephenson on bass and Henry Conerway III on drums were steady and swinging, letting the rest of the band build high on such a solid foundation.

Briefly excusing the rest of the band, Horn and Gould gave a duo rendition of “The Peacocks,” a classic tune by Jimmy Rowles, gifted with exceptional lyrics by Norma Winstone in the mid 90’s. This story needs no fixing, it only needs to be sung. Horn paid it this respect, offering a light delivery with minimal adornment.

“Night and Day” offered a new side to Horn, a call and response with the audience, sharing a bit of her perspective on self-love and guns in school.  Its expected that a Jazz singer should know how to improvise notes, but verses? That’s a skill usually saved for Hip Hop and R&B sessions. And yet Horn did it with grace, embracing her role as the woke lady with the mic. At no point in the evening did Horn shy away from who she is, and this extended improvisation was no exception.

— by Sami Stevens