BREATHY. TALKY. FUNKY. Gutsy. These are a few labels to characterize the fierce a cappella stylings of Hot Mouth, a New York-based group influenced by Meredith Monk, Bobby McFerrin, and Urban Bush Women leader Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Originally trained in dance, Hot Mouth founder Grisha Coleman gathered a protean posse to discover the kinetic possibilities of voice and body.
"It's all about alchemy," Coleman explains by phone, describing her group's fusion of diverse elements from the African American (and other) traditions: ring shouts, spirituals, jazz, renaissance rhythms, and invented language. "It's like a book of poetry where one poem isn't necessarily related to the next one, but at the end you have a feeling of satisfaction. [The music] should have the combined effect of a museum and a Baptist revival meeting."
For Hot Mouth the medium is their most potent message, and with their most recent evening-length work, You Say What I Mean But What You Mean is Not What I Said, the group subverts genre orthodoxy with fluid musical forms. "We're not talking about the old arguments, descriptions, or stereotypes anymore," Coleman says. "They're boring. That language is tired. There are other ways of making an effect." (Palmer)
Hot Mouth plays Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Southern Theater; call 375-7622.