Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Katie Thiroux, an exceptional bassist, captivating singer and gifted composer, is a West Coast phenomenon ready to be shared with all who love swinging jazz. On her debut recording as a leader, Introducing Katie Thiroux, it's impossible to determine what grabs the ear first, her effervescent singing or the delightful swagger of her oak-solid bass work. What is certain is that both gifts embody Thiroux's natural affinity for no-nonsense music making of the highest caliber. Guided in the studio by Jeff Hamilton - the esteemed drummer who here takes on the role of sharp-eared producer --Thiroux and her seasoned ensemble (guitarist Graham Dechter, tenor saxophonist Roger Neumann and drummer Matt Witek) oxygenate American Songbook standards and jazz classics while also introducing fine new original material.

The album's opening track, the 1936 Rodgers and Hart gem, "There's A Small Hotel," immediately presents us with the impressive dimensions of Thiroux's multidimensional strengths. Her beguiling voice -- light, ever airborne, always emotionally direct and free of both grandstanding virtuosic turns and coy blandishments -- remains at the service of the song, while her muscular and melodic bass playing speaks of her devotion to such giants of the instrument as Ray Brown, John Clayton, Paul Chambers and Israel Crosby. The same zeal for straightforward swing can be heard in such riveting vocal tracks as  "A Beautiful Friendship," "I'm Old Fashioned", "Shiny Stockings," (the Count Basie classic, with its infrequently heard lyrics on display), "The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else) -- which transforms itself effortlessly from a delightful waltz to an uptempo swinger and back again - and an extraordinary solo bass-and-vocals performance of "Wives And Lovers" (the Bacharach and David ode to the responsibilities of marital eroticism, offered here with irony-free conviction) that trains the spotlight on Thiroux's outsized talents.

The instrumental pieces are equally arresting. The Thiroux originals, "Ray's Kicks" (an affectionate dedication to Ray Brown, inspired by a pair of the master bassist's stylish shoes gifted to Thiroux), "RoseBird," a snappy bop workout built on the framework of both Earl Hines's "Rosetta" and Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite," and the gorgeous, Ellington-esque ballad, "Can't We Just Pretend," offer up outstanding improvising from each of the quartet while also exhibiting the hand-in-glove unity of the band as a whole. "We sat with these tunes for awhile until everything just clicked with the band, before we decided to record," Thiroux recalls. "We immediately recognized an affinity between us -- our initial encounter as a quartet came together at a jam session that lasted fifteen hours!  We've worked out an ensemble sound that builds on the special chemistry created by the bass, guitar and drums; Roger can then come in almost as a guest voice, a singular musical flavor. It all works because there's no ego involved; we all respect each other as musicians and people."

Studying both bass and voice since her pre-teenage years, Thiroux eventually went on to study at the Berklee College of Music where she performed with Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, Dr. Billy Taylor, Terri Lyne Carrington and others. In 2013, a year after receiving her Master's degree in Jazz Studies from California State University, Long Beach, Thiroux formed her present quartet, which will be making East Coast appearances in early 2015.  For full bio: http://www.katiethiroux.com/about.html

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...