Moonbeams glimmering across the sands of a beach, a softly lit promenade hugging the shoreline, a rooftop supper club that overlooks the bustling metropolis below gilded in neon lights, these are the types of images that Leigh Pilzer‘s music conjures up in the listener’s mind. The baritone saxophonist’s new release Strunkin‘ is straight-ahead jazz at its finest, recalling the sophisticated musings from the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman. Accompanied by her bandmates from the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Pilzer performs smooth jazz with immaculate precision as though she was weaned on a generation of music that existed long before she was born.
Pilzer displays the silky caresses of saxophonist Charlie Parker in “Miss Ally in Allyworld” as she weaves dazzling strands around Jackie Warren’s piano keys. They glisten with a smooth finish that leaps into a boogie woogie stride along “Brag Time,” which is doused in swigs of ragtime helmed by Jen Krupa’s twizzling trombone. The toasty warmth emanating from Pilzer’s saxophone wails along “Thaddish” are contoured by Sherrie Maricle’s brushed drum strokes as Amy Shook’s bass sashays across the track.
The Latin influence enmeshed in the rhythmic beats of “It’s Anyone But You” exudes a samba accent in the melody that is reflective of the legendary Antonio Carlos Jobim, which traverses into the cruising cadence of “Look Before You Lerp.” Here, Pilzer’s saxophone imprints twisting motions along the melody’s course, synchronizing the tapping keys in time with the rattling drumbeats. Pilzer brandishes a bebop style in her tooting sax as Krupa’s trombone blazes a flare for American swing through “Duel at Dawn.”
Featuring six original compositions written by Pilzer and one track penned by Amy Shook and Krupa, Strunkin’ purveys the straight-ahead jazz torch, showing a modern generation what makes this classic genre so iconic and timeless. Recorded live at the 6th Annual Washington Women in Jazz Festival by Grammy-winning engineer Charlie Pilzer, Strunkin’ has the sophisticated glitz and glamor crafted by the pioneers of straight-ahead jazz.
Leigh Pilzer – baritone saxophone, Jen Krupa – trombone, Sherrie Maricle – drums, Amy Shook – bass, and Jackie Warren – piano
“Strunkin,” “Blue Moo,” “Miss Ally in Allyworld,” “Brag Time,” “Thaddish,” “It’s Anyone But You,” “Look Before You Lerp,” “Duel at Dawn”