JO ANN DAUGHTERY - Range of Motion

By Christopher Bussmann - Bop and Beyond - 06/07/2005

Jo Ann Daugherty's debut album Range of Motion is a stunning surprise from a tiny jazz label out of Chicago called BluJazz. Chicago once was, and still is, one hell of a jazz town. The Chicago scene is one of the few old bastions of jazz still thriving in North America. From venerable elders like Von Freeman to upstarts like young Ms. Daugherty here, the jazz currently coming out of Chicago is well worth checking out.

As for Range of Motion, it is an exquisite little gem of original compositions ranging from more traditional bop and post-bop tunes to more experimental ECM style arrangements in the vein of the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago. This is a very diverse record and the playing throughout is uniformly excellent.

Jo Ann Daugherty is the most exciting pianist to come down the pike in awhile. Her style is akin to Monk in its deft manipulation of melody and in the eccentricities of her tone, and yet it is also wholly accessible and would be welcome to the ears of any Oscar Peterson fan. That's heavy praise, but Jo Ann Daugherty deserves it - and not just only for being an accomplished pianist, but one hell of a song writer too.

Very few jazz artists now or ever manage to write a whole album's worth of tunes. There's always the occasional standard or cover thrown in to demonstrate their chops on someone else's tune. While these interpretations can be great, do we really need another version of "Stella By Starlight" or "A Child Is Born"? Jo Ann Daugherty has written tunes that could be standards in their own right and she's not afraid, like such truly inventive forebearers as Mingus, Roach, and Haden to get political with her jazz. "WMD" is an excellent example of this. Speaking on her the motives of her songwriting, Daugherty says that you can "make references to how you feel at a particular moment or what you're thinking about." (Truman Index, 16/09/04) "WMD" makes those feeling and references clear and is the highlight of album.

Jo Ann Daugherty - Range of Motion

Jo Ann Daugherty - piano
Ryan Bennett - drums
Larry Kohut and Lorin Cohen - bass
Neal Alger - guitar
Tito Carillo - trumpet
Mitch Paliga - saxophones
Tom Garling - trombone

And did I mention she's a fox?