Jyoti's 'Mama, You Can Bet!' Shows Why Georgia Anne Muldrow Is One of Her Generation's Greatest Jazz Artists

BY John AmenPublished Aug 28, 2020

With Mama, You Can Bet!, singer and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow blends the funk, soul, and hip-hop-infused R&B of her eponymous solo work with the streamlined jazz forays of her previous Jyoti releases. In this way, Mama, You Can Bet! represents her most integrated, expansive and multifaceted release to date.

The album opens with the title cut, Muldrow immediately demonstrating her musical versatility, a bouncy bass well-blended with swing-y piano and percussion parts. Her vocal is both whimsical and world-weary as she sings, "Mama, don't you fret / I know love is waiting around the corner." On "Bop for Aneho," Muldrow blends elegant rhythms with a seductive welter of free-jazz melodies and wafting ambient sounds.

With "Our Joy (Mercedes)," Muldrow crafts a moody palimpsest of vocal parts alternately reminiscent of Nina Simone and Macy Gray. The bass-driven "Ra's Noise" sounds at times rootsy, at times spacey, the addition of Lakecia Benjamin's sax part (the only instrument on the album that Muldrow doesn't play) bringing to mind Kamasi Washington's explorations on 2015's The Epic.

Muldrow tackles two Charlie Mingus compositions, offering a rollicky and occasionally psychedelic iteration of "Bemoanable Lady" (here titled "Bemoanable Lady Geemix Fonk") and a funky, bass-heavy response to "Fables of Faubus" (here titled "Fabus Foo Gemix"). With both songs, Muldrow is attuned to the original structures, refrains and energy, adding distinctly contemporary, hip-hop-inflected and experimental touches.

The watery "Skippin and Trippin" illustrates Muldrow's appreciation for Thelonious Monk, while "Swing Kirikou, Swing" is a staccato, funk-flooded and incendiary take that brings to mind Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters. "Hard Bap Duke" also mines jazz-funk and jazz-fusion templates, replete with a wiry bass part and expansive synth sounds.

"This Walk" features Muldrow's vocal swaddled in reverb, a sultry track with a hummable melody. The album ends with "The Cowrie Waltz," a fertile mix of quirky beats and melodic sketches, Muldrow improvising with noise elements that wouldn't be out of place on a Deerhunter album.

Mama, You Can Bet! highlights Muldrow's encyclopedic knowledge of jazz, hip-hop, funk, R&B and soul, making for a stylistically eclectic album. The 15-song sequence, however, is eminently cohesive, each track building on or seemingly responding to the previous one. With Mama, You Can Bet!, Muldrow showcases her consummate talents, affirming herself as one of the stellar jazz and jazz-related musicians and composers of her generation.

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