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Monika Herzig: Sheroes

Jim Worsley By

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Composer and pianist Monika Herzig embarks on carefully scored passages against a bevy of broad sonic palettes on her 2018 release Sheroes.

Herzig has long championed female empowerment in jazz, as well as other forms of music. For Sheroes she assembled an international cast featuring many of the finest musicians in the world. A total of nine musicians, including Herzig, brought their wealth of talent and band leading skills into the studio. The results are rewarding and sophisticated blends that draw from many jazz genres.

The record is comprised mostly of originals by Herzig. Her band mates also made contributions. Two unexpected treasures were culled from the past. Both "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "The House Of The Rising Sun" were meticulously rearranged into jazz pieces. The former was funk driven and allowed guitarist Leni Stern to embrace and play with verve over the groove. The latter was reworked, or perhaps better said, transformed, into an elegant jazz piece. Both Herzig and flautist Jamie Baum build to substantial ranges on this offering.

A strong conceptual piece is "Nancy Wilson Portrait." It would seem a tall order to pay tribute to an esteemed jazz vocalist through instrumental music. The challenge was met softly with impassioned movements. Dripping with emotion, "Nancy Wilson's Portrait" is one of the record's many highlights.

Fun and clever, "I Am A Superstar" indeed has fun with the many stops and starts. This was a showcase for trombonist Reut Regev. Although she shined throughout the record, Regan's passion and timing made this song what it is.

The Stern penned "Bubbles" revels in fusion. Impressively, Herzig's comparatively small band may remind listeners of the full and dynamic sound of Joe Sample and the NDR Big Band on their record Children Of The Sun (Edel, 2012).

Rounding out the cast are trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, percussionist Mayra Casales, drummer Rosa Avila, bassist Jennifer Vincent, and saxophonist Ada Rovatti. They all played ambitiously, clearly leaving their egos at the door and focused on making a record that imbues richness and density.

Herzig's strength in playing, composing, and band leadership are all on vivid display here. Of note are the subtleties of instrumental voicing, harmonic sophistication, the direct, yet complex nuances within the arrangements, and the grasp of styles and interpretations. At the core, a tightly woven trio laying down the fabric, that lends itself to the tonal glow of ensemble playing yet allows for improvisation within the subsets.

Track Listing: Time Again, D.B.; Bubbles; Ain't No Mountain High Enough; Nancy Wilson Portrait; Song For C.C.; Just Another Day At The Office; The House Of The Rising Sun; Wayning; Cantos; I Am A Superstar.

Personnel: Monika Herzig: piano, composer/arranger; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet; Jennifer Vincent: bass; Ada Rovatti: tenor saxophone; Jamie Baum: flute; Reut Regev: trombone; Leni Stern: guitar; Mayra Casales: percussion; Rosa Avila: drums.

Title: Sheroes | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound

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