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Now in her fourth decade of recording, guitar virtuoso Mimi Fox has ensembled with legends, topped countless critics polls and performed all over the world. Beyond those achievements, she’s a devoted educator and clinician, teaching master classes worldwide while serving as head of the guitar program at the Jazz School in Berkeley and as Adjunct Professor at New York University.
Fox’s 11th and latest album, This Bird Still Flies, serves as a crisp and snappy, rhythmically diverse master class of its own. Since her recent partnering with Taylor Guitars, the New York native has plied her vibrant, emotional expressions on six- and 12-string acoustic instruments, marking a return to her roots. This throwback sensation manifests powerfully with a meditative, exploratory roll through “Against the Grain,” which was the title of her debut album in the mid-’80s.
Fox embodies her current album’s theme — a declaration that she remains a powerful creative force — with the whimsical and melodic yet technically intricate title track and a delicately soulful, highly improvisational spin on The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” Stylistically, the collection is delightfully all over the map, from the down-home razzmatazz of “Get Away Blues” and the hypnotic “Blue Bossa” to the buoyant romances “Textures of Loving” (with percussive wood tapping) and “There Is No Greater Love.”
For newcomers to Fox’s guitar universe, she opens doors via familiar tunes, including a contrasting dark-and-light read of “Day Tripper” and a sparkling reflection on “America the Beautiful.” Paradoxically, This Bird Still Flies takes listeners on melodic flights of fancy, even as Fox’s rootsy, organic approach keeps her grounded. — Jonathan Widran
Featured photo by Mike Oria.