A Journal of Latin American Arts & Culture
By Susan K. Oetgen
Between Here and There
IFP 1099 (54:57)
The distance between here and there would be impossible to travel without clear vision and a good set of directions. Imani is blessed with both on her new release, Between Here and There. This album invites us to follow her not only through an out-of-the-ordinary jazz repertoire, but also through sounds and impressions of distant places and times. What might seem at first a scattershot selection of jazz, pop, folk, and “world” music becomes a colorful mosaic of image and feeling and spirituality held together by the consistent authenticity of Imani’s vocal presence. She sings every song with her soul rooted firmly in it, and knows exactly what part of the journey it is. It helps that Jon Ozment (piano), Pepe González (bass), Rod Young (drums) and Ekendra Das (percussion) are also consummate artists; they faithfully accompany Imani through this varied terrain, but always remain grounded in a crisp jazz swing. Contemporary jazz may be the “here” of this album’s departure, but its undeniable destination is the eruption of musical joy on the last track, Contemplation/Yemayá, a piece ending and beginning with a traditional chant to the Yoruba deity of the oceans. Imani brings us “there” on the crest of her creativity and passion.