PERTH FESTIVAL REVIEW: The musical virtuosity and beauty of Jazzmeia Horn
There is nothing like a live performance that leaves you speechless, elated and buoyant; the virtuosity and creativity exuded by Jazzmeia Horn did exactly that. With a stellar backing band of Victor Gould on grand piano, Barry Stephenson on double bass, and Henry Conerway III on drums, the quartet definitely made this a show well worth an evening away from my dearly beloved couch.
The real spectacle was the sheer prowess of Horn’s technical ability, with her range and agility in performance being otherworldly. Every note was projected with a new expression or tonal quality as she flawlessly worked her way around her vocal range (it must have been as least 4 octaves!). Her intonation was impeccable, even more impressive given the rate at which she jumped between dynamics, range and tone. Horn did not require any other materials to wow this audience, just her voice. There was no call for a big band or solo instrument as Horn did it all: was that a trumpet, trombone or saxophone? No, it was Horn’s deliberate, free and beautiful vocalisations.
Regular Perth Concert Hall goers who are perhaps not as familiar with small group jazz pushing into this unconventional sound palette may have been surprised, but everyone was warmed by Horn’s onstage presence and clear mastery of the music. Her style was more textural than I had experienced before. There was a focus more on the timbre and sensation of every syllable, as opposed to the inventiveness of melodic concept (though that was nonetheless outstanding too). A delight to watch perform, Horn’s movements and facial expressions matched and enhanced each of her vocal movements — in short, it was stunningly virtuosic.
Though at times the performance format became a little predictable — as can be common for small group jazz — Horn engaged the audience in a good old sing-a-long and carefully led them through the show. Horn and her band left the stage to a well-deserved standing ovation. The quartet expertly had taken this unknowing Perth audience through the outer reaches of classic jazz standards, and brought them back, alive!
If you have not experienced all that is Jazzmeia Horn, I recommend you give her a Google and a good listen.