On Disparate Parts
, her sixth disc, saxophonist Roxy Coss turns a corner and finds herself in a vibrant new neighborhood. Over the past five years, she has steered her quintet into a sleekly modern lane of the jazz mainstream. But on the four-part suite that spurred this album’s title, she heartily embraces electronics — in the use of studio techniques, and in guitar timbres from the skillfully sympatico Alex Wintz — to stake out new territory.
The first movement, “The Body,” opens with a bulldozer piano vamp and pummeling rhythm from drummer Jimmy Macbride and bassist Rick Rosato. Then Coss and Wintz swoop in, with a melody that partly traces the harmonic changes of “Cherokee,” the iconic bebop proving ground. The power-chord vamp returns between solos, as the track spans Coss’ past work and her present location, with a touch of jazz history in the rearview mirror. Another movement, “The Mind,” swirls in on waves of effects — Moody Blues textures from Rhodes and guitar, and echo-laden, multi-tracked arpeggios on tenor and soprano — before a busy theme and a glittering electric piano solo from Miki Yamanaka; “The Spirit” gently soars on gusts of soprano and effects-driven guitar. The combinations of tonal colors provide as much vitality as the source material.
Other pieces build on the less electricized sound of previous albums. No complaints here: Coss has a wonderful tenor tone, which can cozy the soul, as on drummer Macbride’s composition “Warm One,” or light a fire, as on Wintz’s “Ely, MN.” A short piece by Yamanaka threads through the program in five heavily produced, prismatically different variations, serving to reinforce the more adventurous palette of the suite. (The saxophonist has called these cameos “super representative of these disparate parts.”)
Coss has been a powerful advocate for gender equity in the music, as founder and president of the Women in Jazz Organization. She appears dressed in combat fatigues, steely-eyed and armed with tenor and soprano saxes, on the cover of her 2018 album The Future Is Female; she reinforces that prediction with each new album, by a band that reflects her own artistic progress. — Neil Tesser
Featured photo by Desmond White.