Trombonist Audrey Ochoa's Frankenhorn has a big, bold sound. The set was originally planned as a feature for duets with pianist Chris Andrew, with remixes by electronica DJ Battery Poacher. But things got out of hand, in the best sense of things. A rhythm section and strings and keyboard seasonings were brought into the mix, resulting in a sound that almost certainly tops a duet approach.
Battery Poacher remixes show up on two of the tunes, "The Huggy Dance" and "Groundhog Day," the former featuring a warbling electro backdrop over a crisp, modernistic, metronomic beat, shot through with Ochoa's muscular horn; the latter is an ominous cinematic gem with some of Ochoa's most beautiful blowing on the set.
The stringstwo violins and a celloare a plus in Ochoa's arrangements, beginning with "Swamp Castles," deftly sweetening the anthemic tune. "Benchwarming" sounds like a composition that could have been included in trombonist J.J. Johnson's overlooked masterpiece with the Robert Farnon Orchestra, Tangence (Gigantes, 1995), and "Bunganga" explores the Latin sound in a thoroughly modern mode.
Ochoa seems to approach her artistry the way Dizzy Gillespie didtaking the music seriously, but without seeing any reason for avoiding a good time. She has a sense of humor, striking a saucy, Audrey Hepburn-esque pose on the cover of her 2017 album Afterthought (Chronograph Records), giving a sly nod and wink to the provocative cover art on Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights (A & M Records, 1965) on the cover of her her debut Trombone & Other Delights (Chronograph Records, 2013), and mixing things up with Battery Poacherand generally ignoring the confines of genre while proving she may have the right stuff for an evolution in the direction of fellow trombonists J.J. Johnson and Melba Liston in her arranging.
Swamp Castles; Benchwarming; Silver Linings; The Huggy Dance; Bunganga; Groundhog Day; Postcards; My Reward.
Audrey Ochoa: trombone; Chris Andrew: piano/keyboards (2, 4-7); Sandro Dominelli: drums (1, 3), Mike Lent: bass (1, 3, 8); Luis Tovar: congas (2, 5); Raul Tabera: percussion (2), Rubim de Toledo: bass (5); Kate Svrcek: violin; Shannon Johnson: violin; Ian Woodman: cello; Special Guest: Battery Poacher remix (4, 6).
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