Mimi Jones jazzes up More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series

April 19, 2022

Close out Jazz Appreciation Month in style at the Columbia Museum of Art

The Columbia Museum of Art presents More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series with Mimi Jones, the second program of the newly launched More Than Rhythm: A Black Music Series, on Friday, April 29, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. with galleries and bar open at 6:00 p.m. The evening focuses on America’s first global pop style in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month. Guest artist Mimi Jones speaks with Dr. Birgitta Johnson, ethnomusicologist and series host, and Dr. Colleen Clark, assistant professor of jazz at UofSC, about the vibrant roots and genre-merging futures of jazz before Jones and her band, The Black Madonna, take the stage for a special performance.

“Our Jazz Appreciation month event with Mimi Jones and her band will not only be a celebration of jazz but also a peek into its blazing hot future,” says Johnson. “Bassist Mimi Jones and her band represent the ways in which musical innovation in jazz blend with broader social concerns and calls for unity, justice, and liberation. Mimi has said, ‘Part of my work is music, part of it is uplift.’ We hope More Than Rhythm’s next concert event will do just that with an awesome pre-concert chat with Mimi Jones and UofSC’s jazz studies professor, Colleen Clark.”

Mimi Jones has been on the jazz scene for the more than two decades. She has reigned supreme as a bassist, vocalist, producer, label owner, and now filmmaker, as well as worked as a side woman to an impressive coterie of musicians and as a leader with three albums on her own label, Hot Tone Music, featuring the Mimi Jones Band: A New Day (2009), Balance (2014) and Feet in the Mud (2016).

Jones is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory and has studied with Lisle Atkinson, Ron Carter, Linda McKnight, Milton Hinton, and others. As an official U.S. Jazz Ambassador, she has toured extensively throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean Islands. Her vast work as a side woman includes gigs with Kenny Barron, Frank Ocean, Dianne Reeves, Tia Fuller, Ingrid Jensen, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marc Cary, Toshi Reagon, Rachel Z, Sean Jones, Ravi Coltrane, and Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy Award-winning Mosaic Project.

Jones also serves as co-director with ArcoIris Sandoval of The D.O.M.E. Experience, a multimedia project created to inspire its audience to become aware of environmental and social issues within the community and globally through choreography, composition, and cinematography. She is an associate professor at Berklee College of Music.

Guest panelist, drummer, composer, educator, and bandleader Dr. Colleen Clark is the first drummer and woman to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in jazz performance at the world-renowned University of North Texas, the oldest jazz institution in the U.S. Clark has performed in prominent venues including the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland, and the 55 Bar. Her debut album, Introducing Colleen Clark, consisting entirely of original music, was produced by Gordon Stout and engineered by 10-time Grammy Award nominee/winner Brian Dozoretz.

Violinist and violist Leonor Falcon performs around New York City in ensembles that are dedicated to jazz, avant-garde, Latin, and classical music. Some collaborations and performances include Willie Colon’s band, Akua Dixon’s Quartette Indigo, Sirius Quartet, Camila Meza and the Nectar Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill Latin Jazz Orchestra, Maelo and the Latinoexperimental Project, Karl Berger Improvisers Orchestra, OKwarteto, Mimi Jones and the Black Madonna, Linda Oh’s Aventurine, Pablo Vergara, Michael Leonhart, and Sarah Bernstein’s Veer Quartet.

Falcon’s recent projects include Peach and Tomato, an improvising strings duo with violinist Sana Nagano, a debut album The Ultimate Pairing released in 2019, her solo debut album Imaga Mondo in 2017, and CHAMA, a trio of jazz and avant-rock with a first record released in 2016, a live record released in 2017, and three singles released throughout 2020 (all of these released on her label FalconGumba Records). Her newest release Imaga Mondo Vol. II is now available on all platforms.

Angelo Della Valle is a 20-year-old guitarist born in Naples and based in Boston. He started playing guitar when he was 5 years old. His main genre was rock music until he turned 13 and started studying jazz. From the age of 14, he studied both jazz and classical music at a special music high school in Italy, specializing his studies with the great jazz guitarist Pietro Condorelli. In 2016 he won the scholarship “best student in the clinics” for his final performance during the clinics of the famous festival Jazz in Laurino. He had the fortune to play with the famous guitarist Steve Vai during one of his Master Classes in Italy. In 2019 he won a scholarship for Berklee College of Music, where he’s currently studying. In 2019 he founded the band Ayahuasca Experiment, which released albums in 2020 and 2021.

Philadelphia native, drummer, educator, and philanthropist Justin Faulkner has cultivated a sound that invites, entertains, informs, and heals. Throughout his career, Faulkner has shared the stage with musical luminaries like Kenny Barron, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Peter Nero, Jimmy Heath, Orrin Evans, Ornette Coleman, Sean Jones, Tim Warfield, Bernard Purdie, Pharoah Saunders, Terence Blanchard, Mingus Big Band/Dynasty/Orchestra, Bootsie Barnes, Jacky Terrasson, Terrence Howard, Bilal, and Christian McBride.

Faulkner’s training began at the Girard Academic High School Music Program (GAMP). At seven years old, his formal education included studying classical percussion with Susan Jones and jazz drums and percussion with Samuel Ruttenberg. Jazz ensemble, chamber ensemble, and choral ensemble education at the Kimmel Center created a new understanding of community and the creative ecosystem. The Clef Club of Jazz and the Performing Arts provided freedom of expression for a young musician to find his way. Principal Timpanist of the Philadelphia Orchestra Don Liuzzi cultivated the detail-oriented nature necessary to craft the full musical experiences Faulkner presents. Faulkner has toured the world extensively for the last 11 years.

Series host Birgitta J. Johnson, Ph.D, is a jointly appointed associate professor of ethnomusicology in the School of Music and African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include music in African American churches, musical change and identity in Black popular music, and community archiving. She has published articles in the Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology Forum, Liturgy, Oxford Bibliographies in African American Studies, and the Grove Dictionary of American Music.

Dr. Johnson’s most recent publications include a chapter about 21st-century gospel archiving in The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation, a chapter about gospel remixes of Beyoncé songs in Beyoncé in the World: Making Meaning with Queen Bey in Troubled Times, and sacred themes in the music of Outkast in An OutKast Reader: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Postmodern South. She has been quoted or featured in media and news outlets such as Rolling Stone Magazine, NPR, Vox, Public Radio International, and South Carolina ETV.

A multi-instrumentalist and singer, Dr. Johnson has performed professionally and/or recorded with artists and ensembles from a variety of genres including the Southeast Symphony Orchestra of Metropolitan Los Angeles, the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Francisco Aguabella’s AfroCuban Folkloric Group, and the ESPY Awards with Justin Timberlake, The O’Jays, Yolanda Adams, Talib Kweli, and BeBe Winans. At UofSC she teaches courses on world music, hip-hop, the blues, African music, Black sacred music, Beyoncé, and the history of ethnomusicology.

Tickets: $20 / $10 for members / free for students. Galleries and bar open one hour before the concert.

Presented by the Baker & Baker Foundation. This program has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. This program is supported by Richland County Government.

Jazz at the CMA is supported by the following sponsors: Gold Sponsors: Rick and Nancy Layman. Silver Sponsors: Barbara B. Boyd; Dr. and Mrs. Harold I. Friedman; Howard Gilman Foundation. Friends Sponsors: John and Mary Kessler; Becky and Earl Ellis; Amy Sander Montanez; Mary Baskin-Waters and Samuel C. Waters; The Braddock Group of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC.

For more information, visit columbiamuseum.org.