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Roxy Coss, CD Review

Stamping Out Her Own Brand of Jazz

Coss, who originally hails from Seattle, WA a music scene brimming with skilled and groundbreaking artists, began her career at the tender age of 9 years old immediately winning awards for her compositions and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the prestigious Essentially Ellington Competition in 2004. That path continued on with a full scholarship to WPU where she studied with luminary artists: Clark Terry, Mulgrew Miller, Harold Mabern and beyond and of course it would be no surprise she also graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Coss is not just about the paper pedigree, her depth of control on her instrument is immediately evident and her tone, attack and execution are spot on. Her exploration of musical styles is based in bebop, but also includes a diverse and creative mix of genres which manifests in her composing and arranging. Her mastery of the woodwind family is evident by her command of the tenor, alto, soprano saxophones, the flute, and the clarinet.

On Coss’ self title debut release, she is front and center, the core of the ensemble. Coss is joined by Kate Miller on Trumpet and Flugelhorn, Justin Kauflin on Piano and Rhodes, Ryan Brennan on Guitar, Kellen Harrison on Bass, and Shawn Baltazor on Drums. The ensemble tastefully supports Coss on seven tunes beginning with “Wandering One,” a relaxed swing where Coss beautifully unfolds her solo, beginning with breathy rich tones, sprinkled with sparse ideas, until she eventually breaks out into a high-energy, high flying and hard-swinging improvisation.

A sweetly toned flute is introduced on “A New Time” over a Cha-Cha beat that offers authentic percussion and the focused sound of acoustic bass. “I Think So,” offers the listener a pensive ballad, featuring Coss on Soprano, playing in a chord-less trio setting. The cut offers a moody sound where Coss carves out well-placed melancholy notes; all the while Harrison and Baltazor percolate the track with a slow burn. The album finishes with “July,” a flowing funky beat that uplifts the release with harmonically rich ideas and Coss digging in with quick lines and elongated sections. The rhythm section pushes and pulls the track to create additional interest and the opportunity for Coss to dig in with her tenor.

Coss’ self titled debut is a fluid integration of jazz and other genres tastefully melded into a modern sound that is an outstanding debut and calling card for Coss and her abilities. In today’s jazz climate, a reed player that can vary from style to style of jazz is a valuable commodity and Coss is certainly up to the task, Highly Recommended!

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Geannine Reid