"Luck Child" (Challenge Records) is her seventh release as a leader and the first time I have heard her sing with a small group (though not the first time she's recorded with one). The recording features pianist Olaf Polziehn, guitarist Peter Tiehuis, and bassist Ingmar Heller plus Ms. Claassen's husband Paul Heller (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone on one track).
Fay Claassen attempts to blend old and new, hard and soft, happy and sad, doing so in a trip setting that is both comfortable and challenging. There are musical surprises along the way (a sweet version of "Oh Shenandoah" and a good take of Burt Bacharach/ Hal David's melodramatic "A House Is Not a Home"); the vocalist is strong throughout and "Luck Child" succeeds on the strength of her performances, the musicians' interactions, and the variety of the material.
For more information, go to www.fayclaassen.com.
Here's the title track:
The title track opens the album with the leader on soprano sax but also overdubbed tenor sax and bass clarinet. That "full" sound plus strong solos from Ms. Coss, Wintz and Zaleski as well as the intelligent arrangement is rewarding for the listener. The tenor sax leads the way on another original "You're There", the music pushed along by Macbride's active drumming. Ms Coss's solo rides the percussive wave. Wintz and Zaleski offer good counterpoint as the solo continues. The melody of "Unwavering Optimism" moves upward throughout yet notice the step down as the band moves into the solo section.
|Photo by Anna Yatskevich|
For more information, go to www.roxycoss.com.
Enjoy the title track:
The Lascivious Biddies, a quartet that combined witty lyrics, strong vocals, and sharp musicianship. Turned out that Ms. Monaco has grown up in nearby Wallingford CT and had been schoolmates with tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and pianist Noah Baerman. After leaving the Biddies in the mid-2000s, she has led several ensembles, released four albums as a leader, and built upon her teaching career.
"Glitter" (Posi-Tone Records) is her fifth release and finds her leading an ensemble that features Lauren Sevian (baritone saxophone), Gary Versace (organ), and Matt Wilson (drums). Just looking at the lineup and several of the song titles ("Gremlin From the Kremlin", "Mimosa Blues", "The Mean Reds"), one gets the feeling the listener is in for a good time.
Best advice about "Glitter" is to enjoy the ride - no doubt that these four musicians are having a blast. This is the best and "loosest" I have heard Amanda Monaco play. That's not a slam against her earlier work. This program works so well because of the temperament and talent of the ensemble as well as how the composer understands how to let her music "breathe." Play it loud and relax. Just maybe the world is not coming to an end.
For more information, go to amandamonaco.com.
Enjoy the opening track: