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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

CD Review: Katie Thiroux – Off Beat.

Katie Thiroux (double bass/ vocals); Ken Peplowski (clarinet/tenor); Roger Neumann (tenor/ soprano); Justin Kauflin (piano); Matt Witek (drums.)
(Review by Dave Brownlow)
Katie Thiroux, a young bassist/vocalist already has an impressive musical background. On her CV is a degree from Berklee College of Music and a master's from California State University. Since then, she has worked with such fine musicians as Billy Taylor, Branford Marsalis, Bill Cunliffe, Geri Allen, Charles McPherson, Ken Peplowski, Mundell Lowe, Teri Lynne Carrington, Lewis Nash, Jeff Hamilton and many others. This is a follow-up album to her debut CD (Introducing Katie Thiroux 2015) and is thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining, swinging, uncomplicated yet sophisticated, full of variety and the essence of jazz “the sound of surprise.”
The programme Katie has chosen utilises the talents of her four musicians to the full with clever choices of accompaniment for each track. How refreshing it is to hear Peplowski’s clarinet featured on three pieces – it reminds me of Art Pepper’s occasional clarinet forays.
Off Beat uses Neumann’s quirky arrangement for an unusual front-line of clarinet and soprano sax. The song, made famous by June Christy, is a lively opener, swingingly anchored by Katie’s propulsive bass. Benny Carter’s smooth, mid-tempo When Lights Are Low has the piano-led trio as backing with a pleasant keyboard solo from Kauflin. The vocal is suitably sultry……..
Thiroux lays down her bass for a beautiful Why Did I Choose You with only piano support for this emotional ballad. Slow Dance With Me - a Thiroux original – is a bluesy instrumental which grooves along and includes a bass solo from the leader. She gets a round, warm tone from the bass and has ‘spot-on’ intonation coupled with a good ear for note choice throughout.
Master Bassist Ray Brown’s influence shows on the next three tracks. A ‘gospel style’ Brotherhood Of Man rides along cheerfully and includes another nimble solo from the bass. Ray’s Idea, from the early days of bebop and Dizzy’s Big Band, showcases a ‘scat’ vocal, a few bright choruses from the clarinet and ‘fours’ with drummer Witek.
A ‘sultry’ Some Cats Know has Peplowski on tenor and a sexy “knowing” vocal from Katie…..The rarely heard When The Wind Was Green (a Sinatra track from ’65) has the vocal supported by only clarinet and bass. A fine obbligato from Ken provides one of the high spots of the album. Ellington’s Happy Reunion is a showpiece for the two tenors and is a warm tribute to Duke. Finally, Willow Weep For Me is just Katie – vocal and bass – on a technical tour-de-force which she carries off with great aplomb showing off her talents as a more-than-competent bassist and a maturing vocalist. One detects subtle influences from Blossom Dearie, Norma Winstone and Claire Martin – but it’s chiefly herself!
With swinging basslines, clear vocals and inspired arrangements, Katie combines contemporary flair to mainstream stylings as a rising star in today’s scene.
Off Beat is to be released on August 18, 2017, on Capri Records 74146-2
 Also available on www.katiethiroux.com/
Dave Brownlow.

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