Biography

Fay Victor

LIVE at the 55Bar...Photo by Richard Koek
LIVE at the 55Bar…Photo by Richard Koek

Riveting. Authentic. Powerful. Innovative.

If you have never seen her perform live, she is joy incarnate. She scats, she wails, coos, squalls, caresses, plays with words as if writing a play on stage, and does so with a twinkle in her eye. One can hear influences ranging from Nina Simone to Frank Zappa to Bill Dixon to Jimi Hendrix in her music.”
– Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

Vocalist/composer Fay Victor, called “artistically complete” by the New York Times, consistently hones a unique vision of the vocalist’s role in jazz and improvised music. Victor’s snake-like ability to fuse her prodigious vocal talents in many music arenas all while maintaining her singular sound. A multi-genre approach called “Freesong”. Victor’s eight critically acclaimed recordings as a leader has seen praise in venerable media outlets such as Downbeat, JazzTimes, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Wire, Signal to Noise, The San Francisco Chronicle, Time Out Chicago, The Chicago Reader, The New York City Jazz Record and JazzWise (UK). Victor’s 12 year old flagship quartet (now trio) the Fay Victor Ensemble, explores an original music program that JazzTimes’ called ‘brilliant”, is an expansive and cohesive mix of jazz, rock, blues, new music and free improvisation composed by Victor and bass guitarist/composer Jochem Van Dijk, releasing three albums to huge critical acclaim. The experimental blues project The Exposed Blues Duo, with FVE guitarist Anders Nillson delving deep into a variety of blues forms using material from WC Handy to Ornette Coleman in the mix and Herbie Nichols SUNG, incorporating Victor’s lyrics to the unsung and brilliant pianist/composer Herbie Nichols’ knotty and infectious compositions.

As a featured artist, Victor’s vocal approach has attracted esteemed and unique ensembles to have her sound in their midst such as Other Dimensions in Music (ODIM), the perennial free jazz outfit going on 40 years of existence joined forces with Victor for 2011’s Kaiso Stories on Silkheart Records (Victor is the first vocalist to record for the legendary Swedish free jazz label) in 2011, lauded for its unique fusion of Calypso and free jazz and the original synthesis of Victor’s vocal approach with ODIM’s dynamic range of expression. The legendary and longstanding Dutch outfit, the Instant Composer’s Pool Orkest aka ICP led by Misha Mengelberg/Han Bennink, has invited Victor to tour with them in Europe and appear with them twice during US tours during their 3-day run in Philadelphia, most recently playing with them in New York City as a special guest on their 2015 US tour. In addition, Victor was one of the vocalists iin the accomplished and legendary Anthony Braxton’s Tr-Centric Orchestra, featured on Trillium E (New Braxton Records 2011), the performance of Trillium J during the four-day Braxtonian Festival held in October 2011 and given a presenting commission from the Tricentric Foundation in 2014 for Neighborhood Dynamics (co-composed with Jochem van Dijk) at Roulette in Brooklyn. Dutch reedist also Ab Baars invited Victor as well as french horn hero Vincent Chancey to celebrate 20 years with his esteemed trio. It was the first time the reedist had written material for voice and specifically for Victor. And over the past four years, Victor’s work with esteemed trombonist Roswell Rudd, appearing on his 2014 Trombone for Lovers singing “Trouble in Mind” and later in 2017 Victor will appear on a full project of re-imagined standards with Rudd on Rare Noise Records. Finally Victor formed a voice/percussion/piano duo with composer/multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey, with appearances at Constellation in Chicago, IL and Vision Festival XVVI in 2014 amongst the performance highlights. In addition, Victor’s performed/collaborated with musicians and idols Misha Mengelberg, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Marshall Allen (Sun Ra), Han Bennink, William Parker, Lawrence “Butch” Morris, Gary Lucas, Dave Burrell, Andrew Cyrille, Sam Newsome, Darius Jones, Anthony Coleman, Nicole Mitchell, Aruan Ortiz, Val-Inc, Vijay Iyer, reedist Michael Moore, Myra Melford, Matana Roberts, Mark Dresser, Marty Ehrlich, Melvin Gibbs, Ab Baars, Elisabeth Harnik, Angelica Sanchez, Henry Butler, Curtis Clark and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Victor’s vibrant performances has graced stages around the world at venues/ festivals such as BAMCafe Live, The Stone(NY), Firehouse 12 (New Haven), The Bimhuis (The Netherlands), Cankarjev Dom(Slovenia), Koln Philharmonie(Germany), Nardis(Turkey), Rostov Philharmonic Hall (Russia), The Apollo Theater, Cornelia Street Café, The 55 Bar (Monthly Residency for over 4 years), Vision Festival XV, XVI, XVIV, XXI, The ArtActs Festival (Austria), New Frequencies Festival (San Francisco), River to River Festivals (New York) to name a few.

Post Captain Beefheart Jazz” – Kevin Whitehead

Victor is at the vanguard of jazz singers…”
-Robert Iannapollo, Signal to Noise

Fay Victor is a powerhouse with a clear, precise and cutting voice, and the dynamic and textural range of any master instrumentalist.”
-Roger Kim

Accomplished vocal modernist Fay Victor manages to deconstruct the tradition of jazz song without pretension or tedium” -Time Out New York


“artistically complete”
-Ben Ratliff, The New York Times

A selfie I took at the Stone

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