“I lie as much as I report…” (Stronger)
Memories fade and emotional truths remain. Relationships breakdown, while the elasticity of the heart becomes greater. Picture perfect worlds contained in fists need open hands to flourish.
MMIX is not an album of categorically contained music, but it draws you in to an intimate world safe for ambiguity and big hopes. And that’s the fun of it. It’s an “album” with a beginning, middle and end. It starts with a look back an attempt to remember and concludes with the realization that memories are less important than an embrace of the ambiguous. Saying much more would require “spoiler alerts.”
Suffice to say, the music is a tuneful miscegenation of organic folk, rock, soul and jazz. Jason’s love of Brazilian music is probably more evident on this album than any of his others (“Perfect Little Mess,” “Moment a Lifetime,” “Stack of 45s”). But there are homages to 80s indie rock (“Bob Duluth”) and 70s soul pop (“Our Moment in the Sun” with it’s Doobie Brothers meet Burt Bacharach middle section). There’s a lullaby, “Trumpet Guitars,” recounting a night listening to Miles Davis’s “Sketches of Spain” album. And there’s even a Kumbaya moment with Jason’s “Come By Here” imagining a New Orleans second line parade to the tune of Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can, Can” marching along with Ahmad, Krishna, Siddhartha and Jesus.
Jason’s voice and acoustic guitar centers this blend of surrealistic imaginings and stark reality.
As for the title, it’s just Roman numerals. But how fun to have to have the word ‘mix’ in the year Barack Obama became President of the US! Jason keeps a blog about “mulatto moments in post-racial America” so he couldn’t resist the image and opportunity to play with the acronym. Mulatto Moments in eXcess? My Mother Isn’t Xenophobic? Or is it as one fan posted on jasonluckett.com, “My Music Is eXcellent!”
A Mulatto Moment… It’s when reality confronts the surreality of ambiguous identity. The giggle is that while others may try to define one by his or her parts, the individual knows he or she is whole. That’s what mMix is: a whole, a sum of parts much richer taken in its entirety than if radically parsed. (That said there probably are some “singles” on here. Try “Moment in the Sun,” “Mystery and Wonder,” “Stack of 45s,” or “Bob Duluth.”)