All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

162

Roy Nathanson: Sotto Voce

By

Sign in to view read count
The Italian term selected by saxophonist Roy Nathanson as the title of his latest CD connotes a hushing of sung or spoken tones, a deceptive name for a recording with so many worthwhile things to say. On Sotto Voce, the Jazz Passengers co-founder leads an idiosyncratic five-piece through an unholy hodgepodge of pop, post bop, hip-hop and poetry. The unusual mixture succeeds on account of the album's democratic approach, which renders soloistic virtuosity secondary to an overall group concept.

Enlisted by Nathanson are two fellow Jazz Passengers, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and violinist Sam Bardfeld. Both players recompense for the absence of a traditional chordal instrument by serving roles that are largely, though not exclusively, harmonic in nature. Tim Kiah provides dexterous bass work, and in lieu of a drummer is "human beatbox" Napoleon Maddox, whose masterful phonic gymnastics transcend mere novelty value. Each musician provides vocals, though who contributes what is not always clear.

The spoken-word recitations are Nathanson's; delivered in a cool monotone, they range from biographical narrative to abstract poetry. Falling into the former category is the ear-catching opener, "By the Page," in which Nathanson recounts the monetarily driven childhood origins of his literary leanings. Among the tracks that follow, three are covers: the pop song "Sunny" and the showtune "Sunrise, Sunset" (from Fiddler on the Roof) are given characteristically quirky treatments, while Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "The Inflated Tear" receives an impassioned vocal performance and impressionistic new lyrics by Nathanson.

The originals are no less inspired. The tube station setting in "London Story" is vividly brought to life by the band's replication of a subway train's stop-start pace. The sprechstimme of "Kidnapped" scurries through a haze of swift walking bass, pizzicato violin, and trombone improvisation, culminating in a discordant, unanimous wail. The unshakable "Shake" lapses into a '70s crime-film groove once Nathanson has assured us that, despite going broke and losing his hair, he will continue to "shake" and to "slim that slam." The beautifully arranged "Home" is reminiscent of the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile album, while the off-the-cuff finale "It's Alright" is downright danceable.

The engagingly offbeat Sotto Voce casts jazz vocalization in an intriguing new light. Gracing the cover is a glowing blurb from no less a pop luminary than Elvis Costello, from which listeners might assume that the recording has mainstream potential. They would not be mistaken: Nathanson's is an accessible experimentalism, one that eschews both avant-garde elitism and the overproduction of pandering "crossover" jazz.


Track Listing: By The Page; Sunny; Kidnapped; London Story; The Inflated Tear; Sunrise, Sunset; Shake; Home; It's Alright.

Personnel: Roy Nathanson: alto and soprano saxophone, voice; Curtis Fowlkes: trombone, singing; Sam Bardfeld: violin, vocals; Tim Kiah: bass, vocals; Napoleon Maddox: human beatbox, vocals.

Title: Sotto Voce | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: AUM Fidelity

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Book Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations

Nearness And You,...

Clean Feed Records
2016

buy
Complicated Day

Complicated Day

ENJA - Yellowbird
2014

buy
 

Subway Moon

Enja Records
2010

buy
Subway Moon

Subway Moon

Enja Records
2009

buy
Sotto Voce

Sotto Voce

AUM Fidelity
2006

buy
Fire At Keaton's Bar & Grill

Fire At Keaton's Bar...

Six Degrees Records
2000

buy

Related Articles

Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Humanities CD/LP/Track Review
Humanities
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Wild Is The Wind CD/LP/Track Review
Wild Is The Wind
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review
Fairytales
by Gareth Thompson
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read "Contra la indecision" CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Double Down" CD/LP/Track Review Double Down
by James Nadal
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy" CD/LP/Track Review History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "A Pouting Grimace" CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Please Advise" CD/LP/Track Review Please Advise
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 5, 2018
Read "Close Up" CD/LP/Track Review Close Up
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 13, 2018