Los Angeles producer/composer/vocalist Georgia Anne Muldrow’s first album, Olesi: Fragments of an Earth, came out in 2006, and a steady stream has followed ever since. Credits range from Robert Glasper to Mos Def and Erykah Badu. Her album Overload, released on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label, was nominated for last year’s best urban contemporary Grammy.
For the most part, Muldrow positions herself on the left field of hip-hop and contemporary R&B. But her all-round musicianship is steeped in jazz, and in 2010 she launched Jyoti as a solo vehicle for her jazzier alter ego — Muldrow was given the name by the pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane, a family friend.
Her third album as Jyoti, Mama, You Can Bet, released this summer and now cited across many of this year’s best-of lists, cements the musician as a lead figure in LA’s experimental underground. As before, compositions are built from improvised layers, the vibe is somewhat homespun, and there are passages where the piano runs free. But vocals are heavily featured, a first for Jyoti, and saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin guests on the track “Ra’s Noise (Thukumbado)”, a raucous riff-driven song with layered harmonised vocals and spiritual alto sax.
The set opens with the vocal cut and thrust of the title track supported by sparse double bass and off-kilter drums. Then the sinewy, electronic and somewhat mysterious “Bop for Aneho” comes in, followed by “Zane, the Scribe”, with vibraphone to the fore.
“Bemoanable Lady Geemix Fonk” and “Fabus Foo Geemix”, tributes to the late bassist/composer Charles Mingus, were originally commissioned for the Kennedy Center by Jason Moran. The first unfolds over sensuous R&B, the second over an up-tempo hip-hop groove — both capture the Mingus spirit.
Elsewhere, riff-based tunes are followed by ominous ballads, trippy interludes swell and fade, and “Hard Bap Duke” ends with a minute’s silence. “This Walk” is a standout showcase for Muldrow’s vocal R&B and a somewhat scattergun set ends with the delightfully off-beam “The Cowrie Waltz”.
‘Mama, You Can Bet’ is released by SomeOthaShip Connect
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