The SoundNoise Trio / SoundNoise FUNK
The idea of developing an avant-garde ‘dance’ group has been a vision for sound artist Fay Victor’s for some time. Victor started SoundNoise with drummer/percussionist Reggie Nicholson and soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome in 2015 as an open exploration that hit hard their first time out. As SoundNoise developed, Victor thought about how best to pursue improvisation at the core while keeping a pulse in the music that was organic and alive. With the addition of guitarist Joe Morris, what you have is SoundNoiseFUNK, a free improvisational unit of master musicians with a penchant for exploring sonic terrain while keeping the groove going.
SoundNoiseFUNK released Wet Robots to great critical acclaim in 2018, with 4.5 stars in DownBeat Magazine and taking 4th place for Best Vocal Album of 2018 in the NPR Jazz Critics Poll. SoundNoise & SoundNoiseFUNK has performed at Roulette, the Vision Festival, The Earshot Jazz Festival, The EdgeFest Jazz Festival, Capital Bop (Wash. DC), Constellation (Chicago), The Harlem Jazz Series, and the WinterJazzFest where Downbeat magazine had this to say about the group’s performance in 2018:
“…while Morris astounded with his staccato runs, sounding at times like a cross between Johnny Smith and James “Blood” Ulmer, and Newsome showcased his expansive vocabulary, alternately making his straight horn sound like a digeridoo, a duck call, a fuzz guitar, it was Victor’s finesse, ferocity and freestyle abandon that led the way.”-Bill Milkowski, Downbeat Magazine
In October 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, SoundNoiseFUNK released their sophomore release We’ve Had Enough! (ESP-Disk), a live date from late 2019, adding composed pieces to the SoundNoiseFUNK mix. Nate Chinen had this to say about What’s Gone Wrong, one of the compositions on We’ve Had Enough! that was part of Chinen’s Take Five blog for WBGO Jazz:
“In her working ensemble SoundNoiseFUNK, she engages fully with an outright all-star team: soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome, guitarist Joe Morris and drummer Reggie Nicholson. Their second album, just out on ESP-Disk is plainly titled We’ve Had Enough. “What’s Gone Wrong” is an impassioned lament that finds Victor repeating its title phrase, along with a secondary clause (“…with the world?”). There is despair in her rhetorical question, which doesn’t seem to expect an answer — but there’s also clear determination in the way Victor and her improvising partners work through their development. Without putting words in their mouth, I’d suggest that their cohesive oneness is one answer to another open question: what’s going right?
Victor/Heller – Bassoon/Voice DUO
Starting out of a meeting at the New School at the top of 2020, stabassoonist Rebekah Heller and FV paired up on a panel and connected immediately. The pandemic was in full swing and through the International Contemporary Ensemble’s Tues at 7 streaming concert series – their DUO was born and the musical connection was just as immediate as the meeting at the New School just a year before. Since then, the duo has taken off composing for each other and already featured in two commissions for 2022, from Shara Lunon on the Mata Festival in May 2022 and a world premiere from Chris Williams beckons in September 2022 at Joe’s Pub. Much more to come from this fresh new music improvising duo of voice and bassoon!
Herbie Nichols SUNG
Fay Victor’s roots are firmly from the the jazz tradition and for the past 15 years Victor has spent an extensive amount of time learning, developing and writing lyrics for the compositions of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. Victor discovered Herbie Nichols while living in the Netherlands and has discussed, analyzed and performed his music with major proponents of his music such as pianist Misha Mengelberg and of course the great recently depart trombonist, Roswell Rudd. After many years of working out the music and approach (also through working with German pianist Achim Kaufmann) Victor combined Herbie Nichols’ compositions and her lyrics with a new free spinning form for his music which spurned the project Herbie Nichols SUNG. This group performs regularly around New York. Victor is the only New York based musician consistently playing the compositions of Herbie Nichols with established group of musicians. In February 2016, Victor recorded the Herbie Nichols project LIVE in Amsterdam (The Bimhuis) and Koln (the Loft) with pianist Achim Kaufmann and reedist Tobias Delius working on getting a record deal for Herbie Nichols SUNG.(Check the SoundCloud Page for clips of Herbie Nichols SUNG). During the first week of January 2019, FV curated a four day celebration in honor of Herbie Nichols Centennial. Herbie Nichols SUNG was a part of the celebration.
New York City
Anthony Coleman – piano
Michael Attias-alto & baritone sax
Ratzo Harris – bass
Tom Rainey- drums
Achim Kaufmann – piano
Tobias Delius – tenor saxophone and clarinet
Mutations for Justice, Mantras for Change
Mutations for Justice, Mantras for Change is a social justice project based around small musical composition mantras or ‘memes’ as clarifying messages or a rolling diary of the Trump administration. The minimalist and repetitive framework develops through improvisation, in effect chanting protest music to change how we see. The culmination of Mutations for Justice will be a recording/performance project of 45 compositions, close to Election Day in 2020. Curretnly 20 compositions haev been written! In the interim there will be performances to solidify the concepts in the pieces and register the reception from audiences, crucial as the compositions and messages are designed to comfort and inform, to be a conduit for these times.
Victor has been awarded a Headlands Center for the Arts Residency to complete Mutations for Justice.
Fay Victor (voice, composer, lyricist)
Jaimie Branch (trumpet)
Mazz Swift (violin)
Luke Stewart (double bass)
Michael Vatcher (drums)
Review of Vision Festival 23 Launch of Mutations for Justice:
“A start which involved chanting with candles in the darkened auditorium certainly didn’t help clarify expectations of the premier of vocalist Fay Victor’s Mutations For Justice. But once she, drummer Michael Vatcher, bassist Luke Stewart and trumpeter Jaimie Branch made it onto stage hopes were more than met in a set which took minimal compositions, with Victor’s words addressing the times and actions of the Trump presidency, as the starting point for some spirited interaction. At times the blend between Branch’s formidable trumpet inflections, using half valve effects to bend her notes around Victor’s forthright tones, bordered on the sublime. Vatcher found numerous ways to carve out idiosyncratically funky grooves in harness with Stewart’s unruly riffs. Victor’s chorus of “Stormy Daniels I love you” during one piece drew guffaws from the partisan audience and their set formed an unanticipated high point. “
– John Sharpe, AllAboutJazz.com
Old Songs, New Skin
A few years ago, FV started bringing back the original compositions she first began writing with bass guitarist, composer and husband Jochem van Dijk when the lived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The pre-Fay Victor Ensemble compositions originally appeared on earlier albums of FV’s such as Darker than Blue and Lazy Old Sun. Compositions such as ‘Nico‘ and ‘There They Are’ lingered deep into FV’s performance repertoire up until the present while most of the other compositions weren’t performed for over 10 years. As one of the wonderful projects that developed out of the montly 55BAR residency was the organic coming together to perform these pieces, first just for fun and then finding new possibilities with the tunes. Now into a serious project that will most likely be the next release FV brings out. OLD SONGS, yes and the NEW SKIN is the fresh and sparse instrumentation presenting these compositions. Be on the lookout for BarnSongs, Old & New recorded in a barn in Upstate NY in September 2018.
FV – voice, compositions
Marika Hughes (cello)
Darius Jones (alto saxophone)
The 55 BAR Monthly Residency
Since 2012, Fay Victor has a monthly performance at the famed 55BAR in New York City, home to incredible musicians such as Mike and Leni Stern, Wayne Krantz, Steve Bernstein and was a favorite haunt of avant garde piano genius Cecil Taylor. Victor’s been associated with the club since 2005 when former owner Queva Lutz was generous to give Victor gigs in the venue while Victor developed the music for the Fay Victor Ensemble, the ExPosed Blues DUO and the Jazz Vault which turned into Herbie Nichols SUNG. After a long and regular association with the club, on her birthday in 2012, Victor started a monthly residency on the last Thursday of every month. Victor has mixed it up, featuring a wide range of musicians including her working groups plus special ad hoc groupings that turn into amazing musical happenings. Check the performance page often for what coming up next at the 55BAR.
Featured musicians at the 55BAR with FV have included Tyshawn Sorey, Cooper Moore, William Parker, Jaimie Branch, Marika Hughes, Roy Nathanson, Marty Erhlich, Mazz Swift, Aruan Ortiz, Anthony Coleman, Kyoko Kitamura, Jose Davila, Ratzo Harris, Ken Filiano, Anders Nilsson, Sam Newsome, Reggie Nicholson, Sam Newsome, Daniel Carter, Will Connell, Roy Campbell and more.
Check out the Jazz Right NOW Blog post on the FV Birthday Hang from 2016:
In addition – Fay Victor collaborates in many ways with great musicians from around the world. Always check out the performances page to keep abreast of fresh and/or one-off performances with incredible improvisors from everywhere!