Hot Tone Music ***
The first thing you might want to do when the bass solo kicks in right from the off on Balance is to listen to Miles Davis’ album Sorcerer. It’s unavoidable. That’s because New York bassist Mimi Jones (known for her work with saxophonist Tia Fuller) opens with ‘Nothing Like You’, the Bob Dorough song that Dorough sang Fran Landesman's words to with the Miles Davis sextet in 1962 and which ended up included on Sorcerer five years later, a rare appearance by a vocalist on a Miles album. It’s great historic jazz signposting. That done turn back to Balance an album where Jones who debuted with A New Day five years ago also sings on some tracks as well as alternating between electric and woody acoustic bass and is joined by a cast of players including trumpeter Ingrid Jensen plangent and lonely on ‘The Edge of a Circle’, erstwhile Ravi Coltrane pianist Luis Perdomo on five tracks (Miki Hayama on keys on much of the remainder) and such luminaries as Marvin Sewell cropping up. Sewell unusually also adds piano on the treatment of his own tune ‘The Spinning Tree’; and then there's legendary pianist Mal Waldron’s daughter Mala a guest vocalist at the end on the positive ‘Dream’. Drum duties are shared between Branford Marsalis drummer Justin Faulkner and Shirazette Tinnin.
Balance is a lively spirited album even it's a mixed bag (the soupy ‘To Be’ one of the weaker tracks) full of broad brushstrokes and energy, a bit rough around the edges in places, but that doesn’t really matter too much and the album keeps it real with an ear for familiar material including perennial favourite Roy Ayers’ ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ that unfolds stealthily and a quirky if less essential choice in children’s song ‘The Incy Wincy Spider.’ Including Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’, a contrast to the Dorough song in its link to the modern day popular music world whereas the Dorough song denoted aspects of the Beat-inspired jazz-vocals past, is a risk as the song has been covered so much. Yet Jones just about pulls off its inclusion in the eight-minute version here.
Released on CD on 4 February (US release date)