Yesterday Capri Records released Katie Thiroux’ “sophomore” album, Off Beat:
courtesy of Braithwaite & Katz
This is her first release of an album in physical form, having debuted with Introducing Katie Thiroux as an MP3 album released by BassKat Music, which also publishes her original compositions. Coupling composition with her bass playing and her singing makes Thiroux a “triple threat” in the jazz world. The biography Web page on her Web site lists bass master Ray Brown as a major influence, and one of the tracks on Off Beat features her solo work on Brown’s original composition “Ray’s Idea.” Her own work as a composer is featured on the track “Slow Dance with Me,” which tends to be a bit on the innocuous side, particularly in Justin Kauffin’s piano work; but it still provides a platform for Thiroux’ improvisational skills.
On the vocal site she cites influences from Anita O’Day, Chet Baker, and Ella Fitzgerald. One can detect some of the Baker factor in the way in which she tries of establish a conversational rhetoric to her delivery. Unfortunately, her sense of pitch tends to come closer to the sort of Sprechstimme that sparked so much controversy when explored by Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils.
Put another way, she never hits her pitches with the solidity that served all three of her influences so well. (Fitzgerald could not have undertaken such awesome scat flights of fancy without being confident of the pitch of every note she sang.) Ironically, because of the length of the neck of the bass, many bass players run afoul of hitting their pitches with that same accuracy; but there is absolutely nothing to fault in Thiroux’ bass work.
Furthermore, her confidence with her instrument allows her to easily negotiate melodic lines that would bring down lesser players. This is immediately evident in the title track, which is also the opening track of the album and can definitely be taken literally. As a means for establishing a first impression, this piece serves Thiroux much better in its instrumental work than as a song; and the words are more than a bit of a distraction from all the imaginative things that the instruments are doing. Perhaps Thiroux should be less of a fox and more of a hedgehog with her bass work.