On This Bird Still Flies, her first full album of acoustic tunes, seasoned jazz guitarist Mimi Fox largely foregoes flash for stunning lyrical solos that often exude a sense of quietude. That said, this San Francisco Bay Area guitarist deftly navigates a series of stylistic shifts and twisting rhythms on the opening number, “Get Away Blues,” one of five originals on the 11-track album. The depth of her technical bag of tricks is also on display on the cover of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” which incrementally bends that song’s distinctive riff before venturing far outside the melody. But it is on the Fab Four classic “Blackbird”—the only track played on baritone—that Fox’s penchant for expressive calmness really soars.
Despite her affinity for pop, Fox also delves deeply into the jazz songbook, focusing not on well-known guitar works, but on those of celebrated horn players. Case in point: her striking rendition of trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s “Blue Bossa.” Elsewhere, her interpretation of the jazz standard “You Don’t Know What Loves Is,” a favorite of both John Coltrane and Chet Baker, clocks in at 8:34 and is an adventurous exploration marked by multiple shifts in tempo, rhythm, and harmony. Guitarist Andy Timmons joins Fox for a duet on the title track.
Fox’s penchant for lyricism and her abilities as an arranger inform the album’s closing track, “America the Beautiful,” a gentle, quiet reading that truly captures the eloquence of that popular anthem.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.