Jazzmeia Horn lives up to her beautiful name, and what a sweet and powerful instrument she possesses.
At Longwood Gardens on Saturday evening, Jazzmeia Horn’s star shined bright among the grand constellation of great women jazz singers who have come before her. The accomplished 28-year-old singer, composer and bandleader confidently took the stage at the ballroom at Longwood Gardens, joined by Jeremy “Beans” Clemons on drums, Tadataka Unno on piano, and Rashaan Carter on upright bass.
Wearing a beautiful form-fitting, navy blue and white checkered dress, with an elegant slit up the side, and a matching African-styled head wrap, Horn took command of her quartet and opened with “Free Your Mind,” from her recent album titled Love and Liberation.
Born in Dallas, Texas, into a musical family, Horn’s jazz-loving, piano-playing grandmother chose her name, and it fits her well. But it wasn’t until she was 14 years old that she began to understand the meaning of jazz.
In 2009 Horn graduated from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and within a few years had won the prestigious Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition (2013) and the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition (2015). The accolades eventually landed her a recording contract with Concord Music Group and her career began to blossom.
During Saturday evening’s sold-out performance, Horn and her quartet featured a significant amount of music from "Love and Liberation," which included eight of Horn’s original compositions on the 12-song album.
“All of the songs are about me and my experience, and I want people to be healed by my music,” said Horn during the performance. Among her own music, Ms. Horn featured jazz standards such as “Skylark, “Green Eyes,” “Tight,” while mixing in her own compositions “When I Say” and “Time.”
When performing, Jazzmeia Horn engages with her musicians and with the audience; she truly believes that jazz is for all people. Life inspires her, her two young children inspire her, and her career is on fire. Horn is a master of scat singing, a technique in which she improvises melodies and rhythms and using her voice as an instrument of sound, less words.
The final song in the 90-minute performance was “East of the Sun,” which really got this audience swinging and ended the evening on a high note.
Prior to Saturday’s performance, concert ticket holders were entitled to enter the grounds of Longwood early to explore the recent exhibit “Blooms and Bamboo,” currently on display thru Nov. 17. The installation features masterworks of ikebana and chrysanthemums throughout the gardens. Exploring at nighttime, Longwood Gardens evoked a totally different feel, one that truly felt as if you were walking in your own private paradise.
Longwood Gardens will welcome the Joey Alexander Trio on Feb. 29, Kat Edmonson on March 27, and the Clayton Brothers Quintet on April 17. Tickets and information can be found at www.longwoodgardens.org.