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Some Like It Hot — review of three jazz albums made by women

by Paul Dmitryev
Some Like It Hot — review of three jazz albums made by women

It’s not widely known in the West, but 1959’s musical comedy ‘Some Like It Hot’ has been extremely popular in Soviet Union. For some ideological reasons (for example, there was no sex in Soviet Russia), the movie has been renamed to ‘There are only women in jazz’ during USSR’s screening.

It has been some sort of revelation for mere Soviets. At first, party has officially admitted that jazz exists, and it’s nice, and peoples of USSR are ready to embrace it. To mention, few years before one might be imprisoned for holding a vinyl of Charlie Parker at home.

Secondly, USSR has always tried to be one step forward in terms of women rights, thus showing girls-only jazz band as an example of emancipated women has been more ideologically advisable, than outdated argument about an accordion being more patriotic than saxophone.

Those days are long gone, and it is interesting to describe what’s happening to women’ modern contemporary. We’ve found three albums as examples, and are proud to introduce them.

Angela Davis — Little Did They Know

Let’s begin with unique matrix glitch. The album of white saxophone player (!) Angela Davis. The namesake of famous black activist was born in Australia and has released two barely remarkable recordings. Yet, the third one is well ripen and racy. It has not surprised musical critics, but at the same time attracted some attention.

There’s a strange effect in musical critique routine, from time to time. Some albums look unique succulent, yet they have poor listener response. Contrarywise, dull at the first glance recordings, sometimes gain tremendous amount of auditions. Critics usually overlook these recordings by looking for something prominent. ’Little Did They Know’ could a dark horse — nothing extraordinary, yet very comforting and palliative.

Trish Clowes — Ninety Degrees Gravity

Trish is completely opposite to previous jazz-woman. She plays tenor sax, as well, but more prone towards experimental and sophisticated jazz. There’s not as much of ambiance in ‘Ninety Degrees Gravity’, but countervailed by frisky solos. Interesting that Trish’s manner of improvisation strongly resembles guitar one rather than traditional saxophone approach (or maybe author of this review is listening to much of Coltrane).

‘Ninety Degrees Gravity’ isn’t the best representative of London’s modern contemporary wave. Listening to it blindly, it more resembles works from New York, lacking British theatrical artistry. One can even relate this recording to mild progressive or jazz-rock.

In other words, don’t expect seductive relaxation and enjoy mastership.

Melissa Aldana — Visions

The third sax-o-woman was born in the city of Santiago, the capital of Chile. Unexpectedly, she’s the one who represents modal jazz in this selection, — not her colleagues from Сommonwealth.
‘Visions’ is tricky. Melissa is meekly modulating, changing keys and signatures, decomposing the composition. The piano has been recorded by Sam Harris (not to be confused with prominent western atheist-philosopher), who is known for sympathy to neo-bop. Melissa keeps the album in margins that allow it to be enjoyed by unsophisticated music lover. One can enjoy not only the athlete-grade instrumental virtuosity, but music per se.

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