By Sean J. O’Connell | Published February 2020
Jana Herzen’s biography is a bohemian jigsaw puzzle that’s revealed a bountiful image for modern jazz fans.
Herzen first pursued a life in the theater, bouncing around the world, remembering her adventures in song. She was in her mid-40s before jumping into the music business and issuing her first album of global pop. But her desire to release Babatunde Lea’s Soul Pools led to the creation of Motéma, a modern jazz label that’s issued work by the likes of pianist Geri Allen and vocalist Gregory Porter since 2003. With that commanding responsibility, it’s impressive that Herzen had two consecutive days to head into the studio with a solid quartet and get some things down on tape. Nothing But Love is a dozen tunes of mostly medium-tempo singer-songwriter explorations, all in the pocket, showcasing Herzen’s clean guitar work as a confident dance partner for her sly vocal style. Bassist Charnett Moffett along with drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. are the engine on this set, even-keeled and out of the way. In lieu of any horns, violinist Scott Tixier is there to provide a bit of support and tension. And on the reggae-fied “Like A River” and the bouncing “On The Outside” he gets a little more room to cut loose, even as Herzen’s storytelling remains first and foremost.
Nothing But Love: Nothing But Love; Speak; On The Outside; My Latin Love; Night Blooming Jasmine; With An Open Heart; Lightening The Load; High Time; Like A River; Thinking Of You; Precious Air; In The Name Of Love. (50:32)
Personnel: Jana Herzen, guitar, vocals; Charnett Moffett, electric bass; Brian Jackson, keyboards; Scott Tixier, acoustic violin, electric violin; Mark Whitfield Jr., drums.