MAY 2004

Mimi Fox
She's the Woman
Favored Nations

Mimi Fox - She's the WomanWow! Here's another one of those records and players that just snuck up on me out of the blue. Mimi is apparently somewhat of a fixture on the San Francisco-bay area jazz scene, but I hadn't run across her. That is hard to believe, since she's as impressive a jazz guitarist as I've heard in years.

The title of the record refers to the closer. It's a funky version of the Beatles' "She's A Woman". It's a really nice showcase for her chops. She lets us hear the melody and takes off from there. Actually, saying it's a showcase for her chops is kind of silly, since pretty much every cut here introduces you to a player who knows her way around a guitar and a song. Her own tune, "East Coast Attitude" is a bopper that flies along. Another one of her compositions, "Sosua" mixes some airy vocals with a tour de force solo by Mimi. Octaves, chords, single-lines, and double-stops literally sprint out of your speakers. All the compositions by Mimi are immediately likeable. Hummable heads that turn into stretches of fantastic soloing by her and pianist Randy Halberstadt. "Buddy's Blues" is a relaxed swinging blues that lets her show off some very cool chord soloing and a single-line solo that will just have you shaking your head in amazement. Her version of the classic "Darn That Dream" is a truly marvelous piece of work. It's her alone, and the chimey harmonics and incredible chordal work show a musician who is in total command of her instrument. She does the same on "Lullaby of the Leaves". Breathtaking playing.

This is as good an album as I've heard from a guitarist in a long time. The liner notes list some quotes from notable players, like Jim Hall, Russell Malone, and Charlie Hunter. They all sing her praises, and it's easy to hear why. If you want to hear a new player who should be on the jazz scene a long time, check this one out. Fans of jazz guitar will not be disappointed.

-- John Heidt

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