By Dave Cantor | Published September 2019
Whatever your political leanings, the travails of the Trump era have given culture makers a target. And the dirgey sections bookending Roxy Coss’ “Mr. President” simultaneously encapsulate the sullen feel of the past few years while momentarily comforting listeners with something that might have played under the credits of an M. Poirot spot on PBS. There’s also—almost—a hint of “My Favorite Things,” filtered through Coltrane.
The composition crops up three tracks into Quintet, Coss’ live dispatch of works that she’s presenting as something of a self-assessment. As much as reflection, though, the rerecording of older material serves as a proclamation of spirit, Coss coaxing notable performances out of her ensemble: Miki Yamanaka’s contributions on keys both prod the group along and lend it a languorous tint, when the bandleader’s compositions call for it.
Song titles like “Free To Be” and “Enlightenment” should hip listeners to Coss’ cause and consequential artistry. But off the bandstand, the saxophonist, too, has worked toward egalitarianism, founding the Women In Jazz Organization, a group aiming to help “women and non-binary people have equal opportunity to participate in and contribute” to the music.
The bandleader’s reach—both as a performer and as a force for good—comes along with an abundance of round-toned assuredness, and Coss’ horn, even during some of the more tender efforts, like the medium-tempo “Breaking Point,” hints at future decades brimming with recordings.