2

Firey String Sistas!: Firey String Company Book 1: The Blues Series

Chris Becker By

Sign in to view read count
Firey String Sistas!: Firey String Company Book 1: The Blues Series The New York-based acoustic string ensemble Firey String Sistas! includes violin, viola, cello, double bass and harp and can, depending on the demands of the music it performs, expand from four to six to 10 pieces. What sets it apart from a growing number of chamber groups that program and play jazz, contemporary classical and other styles of improvised music are the improvising skills of each individual player. This is an ensemble where each member can navigate or leave behind the notes on a page. Under the umbrella of the Firey String Company, founded by cellist Nioka Workman to "push the art of string playing to the next level," the Firey Strings Sistas! has released its first recording: FSCO Book 1: The Blues Series, and it is an exciting introduction to the ensemble and its unique sound.

Over the course of five tracks, Workman and three of her fellow sistas—violinist Megan Atchle, violist Maryam Blacksher and double bassist Melissa Slocum— easily move between or combine complex, fully-notated textures, Latin and African- rooted grooves, and some truly creative soloing. Like many 21st century musicians, all four sistas have extensive experience studying and performing in jazz, folk, rock, classical and avant-grade idioms. Workman, who co-produced the recording with Slocum, has played with everyone from composer Anthony Davis to hip-hop mogul Jay- Z, and has composed music for dance, performance art, theater and television. On FSCO Book 1: The Blues Series, she brings her multidisciplinary approach to sound into focus to present a program of four jazz standards and her own "Uncle Arthur," an homage (or perhaps threnody) for her uncle Arthur Harper, who played bass for J.J. Johnson, Mary Lou Williams and Betty Carter. The recording quality is raw and immediate, with each instrument captured and presented as a lively component to the overall mix.

The Firey String Sistahs! performances of "Afro Blue" and "All Blues," two classic compositions that might appear to sound skeletal and unfinished without the inclusion of a drums or congas, swing and groove like nobody's business thanks to the quartet's internal and collective feel for rhythm and time, not to mention some inspired hand- drumming on the body of the cello. "I Remember Clifford," composed by Benny Golson in memory of the late, great trumpeter Clifford Brown, is infused with new life as an arrangement for the duo of Workman and Slocum who take the tune at a slow, gently mesmerizing tempo and turn what might have been a funeral dirge into something closer to a (lost) love song. This being a contemporary take on the blues, the set concludes with Bill Evans' "Blue in Green," which features Blacksher's wistful viola solo.

Delightful cover art by award-winning children's illustrator Brian Pinkney mirrors the spirited performances captured on this CD. Hopefully a Book 2 is just around the corner..


Track Listing: Afro Blue; All Blues; I Remember Clifford; Uncle Arthur; Blue In Green.

Personnel: Megan Atchley: violin; Maryam Blacksher: viola; Nioka Workman: cello; Melissa Slocum: double bass.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Firey Strings Company | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "Sektion 1-2" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 1-2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by James Nadal
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "Rings" CD/LP/Track Review Rings
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!