This exciting project serves to rearrange and reimagine a collection of previously heard Coss-penned tunes.
Rather than a “greatest hits” package, Quintet offers fans an invigorating compilation of fresh new takes on some of the stalwart’s most cherished compositions, plus one new track – the saxophonist’s arrangement of “All or Nothing At All”. The disc’s title indeed has a double meaning, as although it marks Coss’ fifth album as a leader, it also notes her favorite type of small jazz ensemble. Quintet is brought to fruition by the bandleader’s formidable group which features pianist Miki Yamanaka, guitarist Alex Wintz, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Jimmy Macbride.
Roxy Coss’ first four discs charted her evolution of becoming a modern jazz saxophonist of note. She exemplifies the true glories of a jazz musician by being both a torchbearer and an envelope-pusher. As an instrumentalist, she wields a burnished, brawny tone, capable of expressing a gamut of emotions. Her prowess on the tenor and soprano saxophones has elicited placings in DownBeat magazine’s critics’ polls in five consecutive years.
The album blasts off with “Don’t Cross The Coss”, which was first recorded on Coss’ 2016 Origin Records’ release Restless Idealism. The whimsical title plays up some people’s initial misreading of the composer’s last name! While Yamanka’s glimmering Rhodes accompaniment elevates and uplifts the disc’s sole non-original, “All or Nothing At All,” “Mr. President,” is a biting socio-political commentary on U.S. President Donald Trump. Reminiscent of Charles Mingus’ classic “Fables of Faubus”, this ominous tune originally appeared on The Future Is Female.
Brighter spirits return on the pulsating “Free to Be,” a tune from her 2017 Posi-Tone disc, Chasing the Unicorn; it’s a self-prescribed manifesto Coss penned for herself to help her push through fake barriers that nip creative energy and personal development. The sauntering, Brazilian-flavored “You’re There,” – also from Chasing the Unicorn – celebrates her marriage with saxophonist Lucas Pino. Following “Enlightenment” – a ballad which graced Coss’ 2010 debut – is “Breaking Point.” On this soaring composition, which first appeared on Restless Idealism, Coss’ soprano sax embarks on coruscating passages in twin-fashion with Wintz. Quintet concludes with another socio-political statement – the urgent “Females Are Strong As Hell,” arguably the emotional centerpiece for The Future Is Female. Indeed, it’s an anthem in light of the #metoo Movement and the fight for many female jazz musicians such as Coss to get the same recognition and performance and recording opportunities as their male counterparts.
Roxy Coss’ saxophone and compositional gifts have been without question for nearly a decade, and with Quintet her bona fides as a noteworthy bandleader have now been deftly and unquestionably established.
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