Following 2015’s impressive Introducing Katie Thiroux, consider the vocalist-bassist’s Off Beat youthful promise wonderfully fulfilled. For this 10-track outing—nine covers and one original—Thiroux, a Berklee grad and semi-finalist in the Monk Institute’s 2015 International Jazz Vocals Competition, fronts a trio featuring pianist Justin Kauflin and drummer Matt Witek. Ken Peplowski, alternating between tenor saxophone and clarinet, guests on five tracks, with two also showcasing saxophonist Roger Neumann.
Thiroux opens with the bright bounce of the title track, a salute to quirky individualism originally made famous by June Christy, livened here by Peplowski’s clarinet and Neumann’s soprano. Later, Thiroux unearths another “cool school” gem with an arresting reading of the Chris Connor-associated “When the Wind Was Green.” Kauflin makes the most of the spotlight on a tender “When Lights Are Low” and, alone with Thiroux, sans bass, a dreamy “Why Did I Choose You?” Peplowski joins the trio for a spirited, scat-kissed ride across Ray Brown’s “Ray’s Idea” and a sly “Some Cats Know.” Thiroux, Kauflin and Witek close with an intriguingly jagged “Willow Weep for Me.”
Rounding out the playlist are three instrumentals, two trio-crafted: a multilayered midtempo treatment of the show tune “Brotherhood of Man” and Thiroux’s sultry “Slow Dance With Me.” The third is perhaps the album’s standout, a twilit take on Ellington’s “Happy Reunion” built around the twining of Neumann and Peplowski’s tenors.