By: Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

For her fifth album as a leader, tenor and soprano saxophonist Roxy Coss made the decision to select material from her first four albums (her self-released debut, the second on Origin Records, and two recent excellent releases on Posi-Tone Records) plus a new arrangement of the standard “All or Nothing at All.”   The new album, titled “Quintet“, is her first for Outside In Music – the program posits her in the midst of her touring group composed of Alex Wintz (guitar), Rick Rosato (bass), Jimmy Macbride (drums) and newest member Miki Yamanaka (piano, electric piano).

While this is a studio date, the results have the feel of a live gig. Ms. Coss is quite proud of the band and its enthusiasm for her material, how each musician makes it better with their desire to get the song’s message across loud and clear.  Take “Mr. President” for example – composed in response to the election of the current United States leader (?), the piece begins and ends as a Russian funeral march.  The band uses the march as a jumping off point to hit a hard groove with fine solos from the leader and Ms. Yamanaka.  “Enlightenment” is a sweet, blues-drenched ballad with a long, luxurious, tenor solo plus a handsome piano spot. “The spotlight falls on bassist Rosato and guitarist Wintz on “You’re There” – Macbride, the CT native who is quickly becoming a first-call drummer in New York City, really pushes the soloists on the track with his explosive fills and driving beat.

The one non-original, “All or Nothing at All“, finds Ms. Coss taking the lead on soprano sax.  The piece has a delightful Latin feel with a hard-bop release. After the flowing soprano solo, Wintz strums his way into a sweet solo prodded forward by the powerful bass and drums combination. Ms. Yamanaka keeps the chords coming on electric piano as the guitarist hits his stride.

It’s Ms. Coss’s tenor sax pushing the proceedings on the final track “Females Are As Strong As Hell” – not only does she take a fiery solo but the rest of the Quintet, save for Rosato, get to speak their piece.  It’s the shortest track on the program (4:43) but it’s packed with power from the opening second to the final fade.

Quintet” sounds great – Roxy Coss uses this release to look back over her career and previous recordings while the use of her “regular” band shows she’s ready to move forward with these musicians, create new music with and for them. Play it loud and let the sounds and the incredible spirit wash over and throughout you!

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