An up and coming jazz guitarist, Mimi Fox displays many components of her amplified, untreated sound that reflect past greats like Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Wes Montgomery, and Pat Martino. What she is developing individually on this date is not as important as her musicality, which is clear and easy to enjoy on these ten tracks. There are two different core bands: one with Yellowjackets Russell Ferrante (acoustic piano) and Will Kennedy (drums) teamed with John Wiitala (bass), and one with Kennedy and Joey DeFrancesco (organ).
Fox wrote two of these numbers -- the serene "Vita's Lullabye," featuring beautifully contained evocative pianistics from Ferrante, and "Mr. White's Blues," featuring the organ combo in a swinging mood. Other B-3 cuts include the less compelling "Wayfaring Stranger," played by Fox imprecisely (despite the hard swinging, organ-fired bridge); the unique, lowdown, bluesy take of Paul Simon's "Love Me Like a Rock" with Fox's twangy, countryish accents; and the title track, another down-home groove with good swing and fine improv all around. "Cherokee" (with Ferrante) is done a bit differently, going quarter-time slow from the original frantic be-bop signature time frame, then going up and out on the bridge. There's a second written unison melody played by Fox and Ferrante at the end of this bridge that positively shimmers. There are some cameos: Angela Bofill sings a rather convincing "Born to Be Blue," and guitarist Charlie Hunter joins Fox on a funky duet of "Willow Weep for Me," with Hunter's potent bass-lines-and-chords approach buoying Fox's improvisations. Fox goes solo for the poignant "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," which has all the taste, reserved emotionalism, and patience only a true romantic can offer this well-worn standard. Fox has the potential to do branch out into a more creative arena. With Kicks, she establishes a solid foundation in the language of mainstream jazz and pop flavors. Recommended.