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Katie Thiroux

Off Beat

CAPRI RECORDS 74146-2 [49:37]

 

 

 

Off Beat

When Lights Are Low

Why Did I Choose You?

Slow Dance with Me

Brotherhood of Man

Ray's Idea

Some Cats Know

When the Wind Was Green

Happy Reunion

Willow Weep for Me

Katie Thiroux (bass, voice); Ken Peplowski (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Roger Neumann (tenor and soprano saxophones); Justin Kauflin (piano); Matt Witek (drums)

Recorded November 2016, Tritone Studios

 

There’s something refreshingly off-kilter about Katie Thiroux and maybe ‘Off Beat’ alludes to it. The bassist and vocalist leads her tight band through ten tracks. In addition to pianist Justin Kauflin and drummer Matt Witek, Ken Peplowski lends his authoritative chops on five tracks, on two of which he plays tenor and on three of which soprano sax. Fellow reedman Roger Neumann joins Peplowski on two tracks, once on tenor and the other on soprano.

The title track is one that June Christy sang but it’s not that well known. Its lyrics are droll and articulate and suit Thiroux perfectly from her engaging delivery of it. The arrangement is by Neumann and his soprano and, here, Peplowski’s clarinet, ensure a ‘high line’ instrumentally. Kauflin takes a splendid solo. Taken at a suitably mid-tempo, When Lights Are Low receives a warmly textured vocal as well as illustrating a good choice in standards, just as Why Did I Choose You? shows a nice line in ballads – affectionately done. Thiroux’s own piece, Slow Dance with Me is a workout for her trio led by Kauflin’s blues-drenched and stylish pianism, supported in rock-steady fashion by the composer’s bass playing and Matt Witek’s unshowy drums.

The pianist is something of a star here, his finger-clicking solo on Frank Loesser’s Brotherhood of Man being something of an album high point as well as a tribute to the bass player’s generosity and democracy of spirit. Katie Thiroux takes a bop scat solo on Ray’s Idea supported once again by her eagerly swinging confrères and the Lieber and Stoller Some Cats Know encourages an opening bass blues solo of molten intent, before ushering in Peoplowski and then her own slow and sinuous vocal.

There’s a stripped-back feel to When the Wind was Green where Peplowski’s clarinet obbligato to Thiroux’s bass and vocal provides just the right kind of timbral contrast – the use of his tenor might have killed the atmosphere. On Ellington’s Happy Reunion – no vocal here - the two tenor front line coils around itself productively and creatively. The final track sees Thiroux’s bass slapping and singing, a solo performance of great spirit, skill, co-ordination and enchanting fun.

It ends a 50-minute album full of variety and charm.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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