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MONIKA HERZIG

Sheroes

Whaling City Sound WCS 106 [58:33]

 

 

 

  1. Time Again, D.B.

  2. Bubbles

  3. Ain't No Mountain High Enough

  4. Nancy Wilson Portrait

  5. Song For C.C.

  6. Just Another Day At The Office

  7. The House Of The Rising Sunday

  8. Wayning

  9. Cantos

  10. I Am A Superstar

    Monika Herzig - Piano

    Jamie Baum - Flute, alto flute

    Ada Rovatti - Tenor sax

    Ingrid Jensen - Trumpet

    Reut Regev - Trombone

    Leni Stern - Electric Guitar

    Jennifer Vincent - Bass

    Rose Avila - Drums

    Mayra Casales - Percussion

    This new album is a follow-up to Monika Herzig's previous all-woman ensemble disc, The Whole World In Her Hands, and further illustrates the wealth of female talent that graces the contemporary jazz scene. Herzig herself is a powerful advocate for the proper recognition and empowerment of women instrumentalists and composers in jazz. Born in 1964 in Germany, Herzig initially moved to the United States when she obtained a scholarship at the University of Alabama. She then continued her education at Indiana University in Bloomington where she obtained a Doctor of Music Education degree with a double minor in Jazz Studies. She is now Senior Lecturer in Arts Management in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs there. She also is a writer, her latest book being Experiencing Chick Corea: A Listeners Companion. Her abilities as a pianist and composer are amply demonstrated on this recording. She has gathered for the occasion an international group of artistes of diverse cultural backgrounds, enriching the total impact of the music. Eight of the ten tracks feature compositions by group members, four by Herzig, one each by Leni Stern, Jennifer Vincent, Jamie Baum and Reut Regev.

    The results are impressive. I was especially taken byBubbles, Nancy Wilson Portrait, and I Am A Superstar. Bubbles is a piece by guitarist Leni Stern whose supple playing is one of the strengths of the composition, along with the dynamic interaction of drummer and percussionist and the infectiously swinging solo from Jamie Baum. It is a joyous number overall, replete with African influences. Nancy Wilson Portrait, meanwhile, is Herzig's loving tribute to the jazz song stylist and carries much of the warmth and mellowness that characterised the singer in her prime. Herzig presents an enticing piano introduction and at one point later references Fats Waller's Jitterbug Waltz. There's also a trumpet performance of delicacy and charm by the Canadian Ingrid Jensen, the whole discreetly underpinned by bass and drums. I Am A Superstar, a composition by the Israeli trombonist, Reut Regev, is a fascinating mix of klezmer, Middle Eastern elements and funk. Regev, in particular, is superb. The meaning of the theme is brought home by the brief vocal affirmations of identity concerning women in music, as in life, which conclude the track.

    Elsewhere, Herzig's Time Again, D.B. is the pianists' homage to her mentor at Indiana, the late David Baker. The soloists offer contrasting styles on trombone, trumpet and flute as well as combining well. Ain't No Mountain High Enough, a hit for the soul duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell back in 1966, has Herzig on Fender Rhodes with Stern sounding like a rock guitarist, and a funky Jennifer Vincent on bass. It was Vincent who wrote Song For C.C. The complex tune seeks to encapsulate the life and death of a conflicted man Vincent befriended who was to come to a violent end. Different moods are reflected in the changes which occur within the piece including, inevitably, dissonance. Vincent is prominent on bass and the trombone/flute duets stand out. Just Another Day At The Office suggests a somewhat frantic work environment. I guess this is Herzig drawing on her own experience. The tenor sax solo from Ada Rovetti is bop-inflected and robust. Regev is typically fluent on trombone and Stern energetic on guitar. Oh, and Avila is a model of consistency on drums. Both arrangement and performance of The House Of The Rising Sun captures the underlying poignancy of this traditional folk song. For me, Jamie Baum's work on flute and Monika Herzig's excellence on piano contribute greatly to its success. Baum's Wayning is dedicated to Wayne Shorter (who else?). The flautist is on alto flute this time and plays with finesse, as ever. Herzig contributes force and urgency, for her part, while Ingrid Jensen is positively moving on trumpet. Cantos allows Herzig to acknowledge one of her major influences, Chick Corea, in a catchy Latin piece with more than an Afro-Cuban twist. Havana-born percussionist Mayra Casales and drummer Rosa Avila (who plays with Latino/Hispanic groups in New York City) between them have a field day, supported by Herzig in full flight and some lusty, almost raw, trombone from Regev.

    The last live jazz concert I attended before starting to review this disc was that of an all-female British group, ten strong, with their first album due out later this year (the group are The Interchange Dectet, the album to be titled Donna's Secret, for anyone interested). That was an inspiring occasion. This CD is a fitting sequel from across the pond. It scores highly in every department. Power, then to Monika Herzig's Sheroes!

    James Poore

 


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