LOVE AND LIBERATION
A month ago Veronica Swift’s incandescent singing lit up the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, yet her recent album, Confessions, provided no preparation for this in-person agility, power, beauty, commitment and excitement, it being overproduced and her singing relatively constrained. What has this to do with Jazzmeia Horn? In 2015 Swift came second to Horn in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, and Horn’s album is considerably stronger than Swift’s, which begs the question: is she, too, even better, live?
She’s penned most of the material (of a higher calibre than that of many her contemporaries), and although not exactly breaking through any frontiers, her music is less rooted in bebop than Swift’s, leaning toward R&B when she slides away from jazz. Regardless of what she’s singing, however, she’s a towering improviser, her startling improvisational flights earthed by a warm, soft-centred voice, and as both a lyricist and a singer she deploys an engaging sense of humour. She’s ably supported by pianist Victor Gould, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jamison Ross, plus guests. Perhaps her future was mapped out from the moment she was named.