An upcoming performance by the jazz quintet Mimosa offers a chance to hear a studio album taking shape before its music is immortalized in the group’s fourth commercial recording.
Mimosa’s Secret Windows show takes place on June 1 at St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in Gibsons, as part of a five-concert tour highlighting new music by the Sunshine Coast-based group.
The ensemble was founded 25 years ago in Vancouver. Pianist and accordionist Anna Lumiere is the only remaining member of the group’s original configuration, although the present artists have been contributing for more than two decades: Rebecca Shoichet (vocals), Karen Graves (sax, flute and vocals), Conrad Good (bass) and Bernie Arai (drums).
“For this album, I’ve worked together with Rebecca, especially on lyrics,” said Lumiere, “and also, she wrote a song in French. I helped to start with her lyrics because she doesn’t actually speak French, but she’s also a voice actress — so she’s really good at doing the accent.”
The group has developed a cosmopolitan fusion of diverse styles. It melds Latin rhythms, French idylls, klezmer and classic cabaret into an irrepressible groove embellished by ingenious improvisation.
Guest artists Susana Williams and Heather Anderson, both from the Sunshine Coast, will join Mimosa on percussion and trumpet respectively.
Music for the fledgling album is primarily concerned with finding joy in the face of adversity, and choosing joy over less-fulfilling alternatives — as in Lumiere’s number Five Feet Off the Ground. Shoichet penned a piece about locating happiness within the realm of diversity.
“Some [songs] are more angsty and some more happy,” noted Lumiere. “Our message is about how things go together. We’re a very nice sort of friend-family team.”
Another piece by Lumiere was originally titled Birds Fly. When Graves composed a tune titled Birds at Four AM, the group decided against a preponderance of winged fowl and retitled Lumiere’s piece High in the Sky. The ebullient sense of being airborne remains.
The album will be the first for Mimosa in over a decade. The independently-published Méli-mélo was released in 2009; the majority of its 13 tracks were composed by Lumiere. The forthcoming album will be produced by Cellar Music, which is owned by Vancouver jazz impresario Cory Weeds. (Weeds and Lumiere met at music school.)
“We’re really happy to do [a studio album with Cellar Music] because the label itself has amazing musicians on it,” said Lumiere. “I mean, it’s a huge honour to be on that label. A little bit intimidating, but that’s okay. That’s where we wanna be, and it’s a really good opportunity.”
The upcoming concerts are essential preparation for the album, which will be recorded in June and released next March. Mimosa’s players are using live performances to tighten up their combined sound in anticipation of playing unbroken takes in the studio. Lumiere will also be adding a few custom touches, like a recording of frogs from a local pond.
“They croak in time,” said Lumiere, “and the croaking will be used to set the tempo for a tune.”
Mimosa’s Secret Windows show is presented by the Sunshine Coast Jazz and Entertainment Society, which is also responsible for the annual Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival. Event listings are available online at coastjazz.com, which includes links to online ticket sales.