America's Priestess of Bop
|Mimi Fox bought her first jazz album at age fourteen "because it was on
sale." That purchase - John Coltrane's classic Gian, took an even then life-long
passion for music on a journey that has made her a favourite at jazz and music
festivals across the country.
Raised in New York, Mimi hit the drums early but at the ripe old age of ten, took up guitar. Absorbing the music around her - Broadway, classical, Dixieland, Motown, she explored every performing opportunity. "I was in a million bands. I played pop, blues, folk, bluegrass, even orchestral drums!"
The Coltrane experinece however, set her on a new course. "It was my first exposure to serious jazz. Naima made me cry....it was just so beautiful." In a male dominated world of jazz guitar, Fox is a shining light not only for her talent but for her breadth of knowledge and stylistic range. hearing her for the first time, 8-string guitar master Charlie Hunter said he "received a jazz guitar history lesson, but with a complete new spin." A protege of the late Joe Pass declared, "She can do pretty much anything she wants" on guitar. Fox has spent the last twenty years composing and arranging exceptional jaz pieces from her San Francisco Bay area home, moving gracefully from the lush and lyrical to bebop or scorching blues. Beyond active, Mimi augments her performing schedule with lectures and workshops at numerous universities and has received grants to conduct concerts and guitar clinics for inmates in Northern Californian prisons. "I feel it's important to share my talents with everyone, not only the most fortunate."
A Bammie (Bay Area Music Award) winner for her solo debut, she received exceptional praise for her 1995 release "Turtle Logic" (".....plump tone and polished technique. She passionately and ingeniously plucks, strums and swings.....Fox and her jazzhounds generate high spirited, harmonious energy....") which features both standards and original compositions. Fox has also performed with the Turtle Island String Quartet, vocalists Linda Tillery (of Bobby McFerrin's group), Rhiannon and Holly Near.
The new year brought Fox's newest Monarch disc, "Kicks", again combining original works with new llcks on familiar melodies. Teaming with "Fast Fingers" Fox as she is known, are drummer Will Kennedy, pianist Russell Ferrante, organ virtuoso Joey DeFrancesco, bassists Mark Van Wageningen and John Wiitala, percussionist Marquinho Brasil and fellow guitarist Charlie Hunter. Produced by Frank Martin, "Kicks" also featured a soulful vocal guest appearance by R&B star, Angela Bofill.
Called "America's Priestess of Bop" by Jeffrey Luhn of Guitar Kulture, he goes on to say, "...her performances often intimidate even the most famous fret mongers..." and "....she propels a tune into the stratosphere when she teams up with other jazz veterans." You'll know exactly what he means as you settle in for some swift Kicks on her newest outing.
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