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Virginia Mayhew Septet: A Simple Thank You

“Happy” isn’t a word used often to describe music these days, but there’s no getting around it: this set sounds like nothing so much as a face-splitting, ear-to-ear grin from the first note to the last.

Which isn’t to say that it’s simplistic or shallow-this is serious fun. Mayhew’s arrangements are so rich that her septet often creates a sound as full as a big band’s. The rhythms are irrepressibly propulsive, especially when they depart from standard timings, and the melody lines are challenging and rife with the unexpected. This is the kind of setting in which musicians who aren’t at the top of their game at all times will get thrown to the curb before they know it.

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