Mimi Fox

Standards

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Jack Bowers, All About Jazz

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We can wrap this one up in short order. Mimi Fox is a terrific guitarist who possesses an immaculate touch and electrifying awareness, who swings hard and whose love for the music she plays is obvious. There's no doubt about that. And Standards is a marvelously recorded sample of her superb artistry. There's no doubt about that either.

On the other hand (he sighs), there is one false note, on tracks 1 and 6 ("All Blues," "Footprints"), both recorded live (as was "Satin Doll"; the other selections were taped in a studio). In a concert setting, Fox chooses to hum or "scat" behind her solos, which is not only annoying (to me, at least) but sounds forced, as she's quiet as a mouse (and equally virtuosic) in the studio and (almost) as tightlipped on "Satin Doll."

I can't help wondering... why the vocal effects when facing an audience? Can't be nerves; she's been playing in public for about thirty-five years. Can't be habit; she doesn't do it in a studio. So there must be another reason. Perhaps she picked it up from Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett or other another "hummer." Whatever the cause, I must say it leaves me cold, as I don't care to hear instrumentalists "think" while they play (even Oscar or Keith). If that doesn't bother you, please turn a deaf ear to these ungracious comments and use it instead to listen to a magnificent artist at work.

Fox does play brilliantly, even when "accompanying" herself (I'm sure I've never heard a more imaginative version of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"). The album's title must refer to jazz standards as well as the popular variety, as that's what "All Blues," "Footprints," "Satin Doll," "Spring Can Really Hang You Up," Bird's "Donna Lee," Coltrane's "Naima," Jobim's "Wave" and Tadd Dameron's "Lady Byrd" [sic] are. Fox has gleaned only two numbers from the Great American Songbook, "Stella by Starlight" and "My Foolish Heart," both written by Victor Young / Ned Washington, and played back- to-back before "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

I hope Ms. Fox will forgive me for dwelling so long on a peripheral issue. When all is said and done, she is a masterful guitarist who's at the top of her form on Standards, an enormously pleasurable listening experience for anyone who doesn't mind the occasional "special effect."








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