Reviews - ROY NATHANSON.. Sotto Voce ..(AUM037)

"Saxophonist Roy Nathanson's Sotto Voce is an unexpected delight, an avant-populist celebration of the multiplicity of the human voice, in which funky modern jazz meets Jewish raconteurship meets gospel spirituality meets pop earthiness meets hip-hop beatboxing. It's an outstanding album, a hard-grooving, serious/funny exploration of the surrealism of everyday life, and Nathanson deals with potentially heavy topics–war, death, old age–with exemplary honesty, soul, and humour.
- Nate Dorward

"Sotto Voce is the best example yet of the saxophonist-storyteller's tales 'n' tunes mélange. His hipster stance always has a big heart behind it, and as the 'bone, strings, and reeds jell, a true sonic cinema emerges. From a poignant 'Sunrise, Sunset' to a chilling 'Inflated Tear,' it throws out some touchstones too. Check the way the human beatbox dude splashes like Elvin." - Jim Macnie

"The records dazzles from start to finish .. Sotto Voce blends bebop, funk, free improv, poetry and hip-hop, and the result is bizarre and irresistible." - Steve Greenlee


"Nathanson has created his best pop/jazz/monologue album to date. [it shows] the best of Nathanson's considerable talents as an arranger, a lyricist, a narrator, and - in no small part - a great saxophonist." - Kurt Gottschalk

"Here's a resounding welcome back for Nathanson, whose Sotto Voce brims with a bemused exuberance and bubbles with a strange brew of spoken word, song and improvisation. [This album] functions as a hip, lyrical variety show that at turns gets boisterous with instrumental soaring (snaky sax lines, Curtis Fowlkes' trombone slithers, violinist Sam Bardfeld's klesmer-shaded phrasings) and energized by the hip-hop and doo-wop-infused vocal of Napoleon Maddox. Tunes range from Nathanson originals (the playful but poignant "By The Page" and the melodic beauty "Home") to covers like the new-grooved rendering of Bobby Hebb's 1966 soul hit "Sunny." Like Nathanson's spirited projects with the Jazz Passengers, which he and Fowlkes co-founded in 1987, Sotto Voce is jazz that stretches the art form." - Dan Ouellette

"With superb arrangements and inspired playing, the ironically-titled Sotto Voce is nuts and an absolute gem."

ALL ABOUT JAZZ .com (read both full reviews at
"Utilizing a wicked combination of instrumental and vocal counterpoint, rich vocal harmonies, passionate instrumental cadenzas and collective improvisation, this is intimate ensemble music of a highly advanced but conceptually playful nature. Equal parts carnival excess, vaudeville showmanship and Tin Pan Alley smarts, Sotto Voce finds Nathanson and company delivering what may be the year's most unusual and intriguing album." - Troy Collins

"The saxophonist and his four-man band do all the singing themselves, as they meld stories and poems into wonderfully skewed songs that are equal parts jazz, hip-hop, doo-wop, funk and pop. Sotto Voce delights regardless of whether you recognize the musical reference points it so smartly salutes and subverts." - George Varga

"Poetic narratives are [this] boho conceptualist's strong suit. On the new Sotto Voce he recalls everything from his dad's monetary method of boosting the family's spelling skills to the one-world spirituality he watched unfold in a London tube station. The marvelous blend of sax, violin, bass 'n' bone helps vivify the tales and vice versa." - Jim Macnie

"Sotto Vocemakes full use of Nathanson's unusual skills as a conceptualist and raconteur. All of the members of his band double on vocals, occasionally suggesting a literate and subversive barbershop quartet." - Nate Chinen

"On the new Sotto Voce, head Jazz Passenger Roy Nathanson's [new quintet] serves up jazz as one part theater, one part radio play. Nathanson puts it all across like an ace monologist who just happens to be a great bandleader."

"For his latest project, Nathanson alternates between his gruff storytelling voice and his mellifluous sound on alto sax to spin tales that feel both familiar and strange."

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