Eve Packer, the Wordsmith of Lower Manhattan, has identified a solid vehicle for presenting her down-to-earth, everyday-life poetry. On Cruisin w/Moxie
she connects once again with saxophonist Noah Howard and pianist Bobby Few, two kindred spirits with whom she has worked on previous collaborations. Both musicians give strong performances in accentuating, punctuating, and elaborating on the hip words flowing so earthily, so sensually from Packer’s astute mind.
Packer can take an ordinary, unimpressive event and turn it into a story to hold your attention until its conclusion; or she can tug at your heartstrings while relating deeply emotional events. On this series of 20 selections, she expounds on such plebian situations as housecleaning, on such serious matters as fidelity, and on such moving issues as the 9/11 catastrophe; yet her phrasing consistently draws one into the conversation regardless of topic to a point where it is too late to withdraw. Packer has advice on love, life, or just simple living, and she serves it up in huge portions that are very digestible.
On a very short previously released recording from Altsax entitled Window: 9/11, Packer emotionally described eyewitness views of the attack on the World Trade Center. These three cameos of emotion are included among the pieces on this release. In the space of nine minutes, she conveys the dazed reality of life on that regrettable day and the realism that followed it.
Howard makes impressive appearances throughout the recording, instilling tender pleas, expelling expressive lines, or injecting gutsy blasts to match the verbal fluctuations from Packer. Few, who appears on more than half the tracks, uses his piano to color in all the spaces behind Packer. He hits just the right tonal centers to add strength to the poetry. In addition to Howard and Few, numerous other musicians make selected appearances during the musical segments from studio sessions in Holland, Belgium, New Orleans, and Egypt – all under the direction of Howard.
Packer is a woman of our times. She sees life through a different window on the world, but she always calls it from her heart, which she frequently wears on her sleeve. Her poetry is profound in basic terms, and she relays the message with eloquent simplicity blanketed by the soulful sounds of her Howard/Few association. It works.
Personnel: Eve Packer-words; Noah Howard-soprano, alto, & tenor saxophone; Bobby Few-piano; Cesare-
drums; Tammy Hall-keyboard, synthesizer; I.c-bass; Marty Townsend-guitar; Danny Dhont-
percussion, electronic percussion; Curt Hanson-bass; Jan Verheyen-guitar; Walter Metz-drums;
Lisbeth-background vocals; Migration Orchestra; Master Drummers of Luxor. Recorded: 2001-2003,
New York, NY; Brussels, Ghent, & Antwerp, Belgium; New Orleans, La; Egypt.