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The Ballad of Roxy Coss

The rising saxophonist conjures up old-school tenor romance and grit

Roxy Coss (photo by Anna Yatskevich)
Roxy Coss (photo by Anna Yatskevich)

After playing the second tune at her CD-release party in early April, at Smalls in the West Village, Roxy Coss put her tenor saxophone down. “I’m looking for a microphone,” Coss told the house, packed with 20- and 30-somethings, including a high percentage of young women. “My voice is very soft.”

She found the mic and introduced her collaborators, praising the contributions of pianist Miki Yamanaka, a brand-new bandmate, and the personnel from her new record, Chasing the Unicorn (Posi-Tone): guitarist Alex Wintz, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Jimmy Macbride, whose rumpled informality contrasted the leader’s crisp black ensemble. Coss stated the titles of the anthemic, metrically modulated “Unwavering Optimism” and the bright, Brazil-tinged “You’re There.” She projected pungently on both selections, with a centered tone and impeccable articulation, executing thematically cohesive statements with clarity and presence.

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