It is fitting that the serendipitously named Jazzmeia Horn, winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2013 and the Thelonious Monk Institute jazz competition in 2015, opens her debut album with “Tight,” a Betty Carter signature. Just 25, the Dallas-born Horn emerges as a fully realized stylist and a first-rate scatter whose vivacity, imagination, gutsiness and sociopolitical savvy echo the likes of Carter and Abbey Lincoln. Simply put, she is as exciting a discovery as Cécile McLorin Salvant or Gregory Porter.
The recording and release of A Social Call was the cornerstone of Horn’s Monk-competition prize, courtesy of Concord Music Group, which provided her with top-tier bandmates. Augmenting a core trio of pianist Victor Gould, bassist Ben Williams and drummer/percussionist Jerome Jennings, tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard, trumpeter Josh Evans and trombonist Frank Lacy make frequent guest appearances.
To shape the 10-track program, Horn draws upon jazz and soul classics: a sprightly reading of the Gigi Gryce-Jon Hendricks title track; a rapid-fire “I Remember You” and a tranquil float across Jimmy Rowles and Norma Winstone’s “The Peacocks” alongside a swinging, Natalie Cole-worthy treatment of “I’m Going Down” and a dazzlingly cacophonous “People Make the World Go Round.” Two medleys in particular are standouts: an inspired conjoining of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with “Moanin’”; and, propelled by tribal chants, jungle whoops and police calls, a 13-minute amalgamation of “Afro Blue,” “Wade in the Water” and Horn’s own poem “Eye See You.”