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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.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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