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Roxy Coss: Restless Idealism

Jack Bowers By

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Roxy Coss was inspired to name the second album as leader of her own group Restless Idealism after reading a passage by Hunter S. Thompson in The Rum Diary, in which he weighs the tension between "a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other." While Coss, as a working musician, has wrestled with both sides of that equation, she weighs anchor essentially on the shore of idealism, a point of view that is reflected in her ten enticing compositions and the generally sunny nature of her tenor and soprano saxophones.

Coss lays her optimistic cards squarely on the table on the bracing, straight-down-the- middle opener, "Don't Cross the Coss" (a play on her name, which is often confused as "Cross"), proving beyond any doubt that when it comes to improvising, she lacks neither technique nor ingenuity. Coss fronts a quintet on that number, as she does on every other save "Push" and "The Story of Fiona," on which the eminent trumpeter Jeremy Pelt makes it a sextet. "Don't Cross the Coss" also makes known the considerable skills of pianist Chris Pattishall whose every solo is astute and seductive. With so many splendid musicians gracing the New York City area, it's almost a given that the rhythm section (Pattishall, guitarist Alex Wintz, bassist Dezron Douglas, drummer Willie Jones III) is steadfastly alert and unflappable.

While Coss's themes are based for the most part on her life experiences, the music itself is what carries the day, and Coss is quite adept at setting a mood and enhancing it, harmonically and rhythmically, thus keeping the listener absorbed as she and her colleagues spin a taut and tasteful web. Coss plays tenor sax most of the way, soprano on "Breaking Point" and the translucent closer, "Recurring Dream," suitably named considering the dreamlike atmosphere that enfolds several other numbers, most notably "Perspective," "Happiness Is a Choice" and "Almost My Own," each of which is near-hypnotic in scope and texture.

For comparison's sake only, Coss's style and phrasing veer often through Eric Alexander / Grant Stewart territory with nods toward such renowned precursors as Hank Mobley and Frank Foster. These are, however, no more than nascent building blocks; in the long run, Coss goes her own way, and her special approach to improvisation is well worth hearing—as is Restless Idealism, a sharp and seaworthy enterprise from stem to stern and fore to aft.

Don't Cross the Coss; Waiting; Push; Perspective; Breaking Point; Happiness Is a Choice; Tricky; The Story of Fiona; Almost My Own; Recurring Dream.

Roxy Coss: tenor, soprano saxophone; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Alex Wintz: guitar; Chris Pattishall: piano; Dezron Douglas: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.

Track Listing: Don't Cross The Coss; Waiting; Push; Perspective; Breaking Point; Happiness Is A Choice; Tricky; The Story Of Fiona; Almost My Own; Recurring Dream.

Personnel: Roxy Coss: Tenor and soprano saxophones; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Alex Wintz: guitar; Chris Pattishall: piano; Dezron Douglas: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.

Title: Restless Idealism | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Origin Records

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