If American expatriate Fay Victor assimilates the grace of Nancy Wilson, the delivery of Betty Carter, and the courage of Cassandra Wilson, her guitarist, Anton Goudsmit channels the tone of Kenny Burrell, the image of Charlie Christian and the attitude of James Blood Ulmer. This is fairly well illustrated on "Tonight," Ms. Victor's take on Herbie Nichols' "House Party Starting." This song is populated with Victor's elastic vocals and Goudsmit's elastic plectra. Goudsmit's extended solo is full of crags and hallows, devoid of regard for time or rhythm. In short, refreshing and daring. This delivery is reminiscent of Cassandra Wilson's Miles Davis deconstructive vision. Not a mere copy, but certainly influenced by it.
So it is with Ms. Victor's delivery. She and her band take this most ill behaved composition and spank it into total rebellion before turning it into the quiet eight-minute tour de force it is. "Tonight" also illustrates another core characteristic of this disc, that of "less is more." The majority of the instrumentation is spare and spread out, as on the voice, bass, drum treatment of Debussy's "My Reverie." The music is almost self propelled, sporting a sharp efficiency, music stripped to the bone. Even upbeat pieces like "Strollin'" a characterized by a certain economy that can only derive from practice and reference. If the earlier Herbie Nichols piece was not challenging enough, Victor bases "Strollin'" on Mingus' ("Nostalgia in Times Square").
Fay Victor shows she knows her way around standards on "Star Eyes" and "What A Little Moonlight Can Do." She sings these not so much straight as expelling them with some creative entropy. She possesses a voice and a style that will have to be honestly confronted by the astute listener. Fay victor is a thinking person's jazz vocalist.
Eclipse; Zootoon; Tonight; My Reverie; Strollin'; Last Night's Dinner; Star Eyes; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; Sometimes; In The City; Detour Ahead. (Total Time: 47.19).
Fay Victor: Vocals; Anton Goudsmit: Guitar; Vijay Lyer: Piano; John Herbert Bass; Steve Hass: Drums; Marc Mommaas: Tenor Saxophone.