FV having a good time! Photo: Deneka Peniston

The SoundNoise Trio/SoundNoise FUNK
Herbie Nichols SUNG
Mutations for Justice, Mantras for Change
Old Songs, New Skin
Other Projects

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?

SoundNoiseFUNK (with special guest Eddy Kwon) after the World Premiere of “Work In These Times” on Vision 26, June 24 2022
SoundNoiseFUNK w Joe Morris, FV, Sam Newsome after performance at the New school, April 2022

Fay Victor SOLO

Voice, Compositions, Nord 4 Keyboard + Processing
Recorded on July 30-31, 2022 by Chris Weiss
Released August 25, 2023 for Northern Spy Records

Blackity Black Black Is Beautiful is the very first solo record by Fay Victor, whose 30-year-long music career has covered everything from House, New Music, Jazz (Blues) and Free Improvisation. Her deep history with dance music, her genreless output, and her lived experience as a Black woman in the world shaped a brand new process she used to create this prismatic album which touches on all the decades of her life like diary snapshots. It’s a mesmerizing collection of composed work that could only be made by an extraordinary improviser.

From hearing the raw, almost gospel vocal style over a heavy beat of Donna Summer and Sylvester, to obsessing over shows like Soul Train, Solid Gold, and Dance Fever on TV, to experiencing the sweat and groove, the freedom of bodies moving at NYC clubs like Danceteria, The Loft, and the Paradise Garage – her life changed forever. As she was developing as a jazz singer in Amsterdam in the 90s, she danced to trance music in clubs like Mazzo and The Soul Kitchen. She landed on the Billboard charts with a club hit “You Make Me Happy” in ’91. Stoned on the sacred dance floor, Fay found ecstasy in the moving body, the groove, the beat.

As she entered deeper into the world of jazz, she was more attracted to the rhythmic qualities of Thelonious Monk, Eddie Harris, Eric Dolphy, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Betty Carter, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nicole Mitchell, Milford Graves, Julius Hemphill, Charles Mingus, Herbie Nichols. Their connection to rhythm sends her soul leaping, connecting her back to her clubheadheart.

With Mavin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” as a template, Fay started thinking about how her solo album might unfold. She sang, played keyboards, added textures and further dimensions with no other humans, without electronics. That was her process. Thoroughly creative, composed with music and words straight from her spirit.

Press Love❤️

Blackity Black Black is Beautiful exists within a unique space where poetry, electronic music, and the avant-garde meet…“Trust the Universe” drives home the message of Blackity Black Black is Beautiful. Although our struggle as Black people may seem insurmountable and all-encompassing, we are ultimately guided and strengthened by something greater: our own power and inherent beauty.
–John Morton, Bandcamp – Album Off the Day 8/24/23

“How the vocalist made it to this point is a fascinating story, full of unexpected details, each one a defining step for her as a deep critical thinker about jazz and improvisation, the craft ad the possibilities of the voice and especially her own aesthetic and intellectual values…is  as singular as her style, but in every moment, there is assuredly the feeling of music grounded in deep experience. The lyrics of her music are often personal…Warm vocal touches on the blues and also influences of Sun Ra and poet/activist June Jordan, not just in the musical structures but with a natural embrace of an enveloping open expression.
George Grella, NYC Jazz Record, September 2023 – FV Feature

This impressive album is a thoughtful, obviously personal journey of a unique and wise artist that trusts the power of music and knows that music can motivate people and bring positive change, even with one song.
–Eyal Hareuveni, Salt Peanuts

Gripping, powerful and evocative new album from Fay Victor. Blackity Black Black Is Beautiful explores Black identity, history, and social issues through music. With track titles like ‘Governorship/Senate (for Stacey Abram)’, you already know it’s a memorable affair. Victor’s artistic vision and her ability to fuse different genres and styles into an exciting and thought-provoking musical journey is beautifully displayed in this album. –TwistedSoulMusic Blog

“This album is a never-ending questioning: an investigation into the history of black female influence on jazz, and a demand that this is recognized. Victor splices scat, jazz, gospel, and electronic music, taking very different styles and combining them cleverly using music to create a bridge between them. This is intriguing musically and an incredibly effective way of communicating. It feels almost natural when she links jazz, electronica, and rock, and then infuses the result with the soul of her voice to breathe life into the chimera she has created. It should be no surprise this experienced leader, award-winning vocalist, educator, and composer should create music imbued with class. Yet this album also delivers a powerful revelation of Victor as an artist, making it a discovery in more ways than one and a thing of intriguing charm.”
Sammy Stein, WeJazz Helsinki (print only)

“Fay Victor performs jazz, blues, opera, free improvising, avant-garde and modern classical music. She has worked across the world and collaborated with many top musicians.  So far in 2023, she has premiered a work for the International Contemporary Ensemble, a composition for solo violin, and a duo bassoon piece. She has presented three new works for a telematic concert between UC San Diego and NYC and had a residency at the New England Conservatory. Her latest album release Blackity Black is Beautiful has received wonderful reviews.”
10 Female jazz musicians you need to know – Reader’s Digest UK

Fay Victor/Rebekah Heller
Voice/Bassoon DUO

Photo by Christopher Pelham

Meeting on an adjudication panel at the New School at the top of 2020, star bassoonist Rebekah Heller and FV connected immediately. After a pandemic appearance on a New School performance Series, it became clear that a collaboration in person needed to happen. Through the International Contemporary Ensemble’s Tues @7 streaming concert series – their DUO was born and the musical connection was just as immediate as the meeting at the New School a year before. Since that time the DUO has performed at The Stone, The M3 Festival, Roulette, Spectrum as well as performing commissions for composers such as Shara Lunon on the Mata Festival in May 2022 and a world premiere from Chris Williams in September 2022 at Joe’s Pub. Victor and Heller are composing themselves for the DUO including pieces called Safe Harbor Shade, For Karen Borca and Compound Piggies.

Herbie Nichols SUNG

Life is Funny This Way

To be released on April 5, 2024 on Tao Forms

A  longtime  fan  of  Herbie  Nichols’  knotty  yet  joyous  compositions,  vocalist/composer Fay Victor  discovered Nichols’ music  in her then boyfriend’s CD collection while  living  in Amsterdam,  the  Netherlands  in  the  90’s.   ‘House  Party  Starting’  was the Nichols composition  that captured Victor’s imagination and inspiration. Wanting to sing the very difficult composition was out of reach at the time, yet a few years later Victor learned and began performing the composition after lyrics were written for House Party Starting. After House Party Starting, Victor  steadily  developed  a  book  of  Nichols  repertoire, playing his music with greats such as Misha  Mengelberg (+ The Instant Composer’s Pool),  Roswell  Rudd,  Michael  Moore,  Ab  Baars,  Han  Bennink,  Wolter  Wierbos,  Jose Davila,  Oscar  Noreiga,  Anders  Nilsson,  Michael  Attias,  Ratzo  Harris, Anthony  Coleman and Tom Rainey. 

Life  is  Funny  That  Way is  Herbie Nichols project like no other. This project includes all  original  lyrics that Victor’s written alongside exciting  approaches  to  presenting  Nichols’  compositions never heard on record before. Moreover,  this  project  seeks  to combine  improvisation  inside  and  outside  of  the  compositions,  playing  up  the  pure  joy  inherent in  Herbie  Nichols music. Life is Funny That Way is a historic and landmark project to boot, featuring lyrics written to Nichols compositions for a full project for the first time, similar to Carmen MCrae does Monk (1990). This is the first project of Herbie Nichols led by a Black bandleader and jazz artist. On a deeply personal note, Nichols and Victor share Carribean roots from Trinidad where both of their mothers were born. This spirit is in the expression of the music on the album. Developing Herbie Nichols SUNG over the last 10 years with an amazing collaborative  quintet has been a joy to realize the potential of Nichol’s great music with the ability to share his compositions with many audiences in this time.

Fay Victor’s Herbie Nichols SUNG

  • Fay Victor – voice, lyrics, arrangements
  • Michael Attias – alto & baritone saxophones
  • Anthony Coleman – piano
  • Ratzo Harris – bass
  • Tom Rainey – drums

This is a deep-heart project of Fay’s that has been in gestation for over a decade now, a loving homage/re-consideration of the great jazz compositions of Herbie Nichols.  The fantastic TAO Forms brought this project into the studio and results will be released to the world on April 5th, 2024. 

We are looking for dates to present this great music by Herbie Nichols SUNG in May and June 2024.

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 from Vision Festival 23. Photo: Eva Kapanadze

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,

Performing ‘Brown People Out’ on The Vision Festival in 2018
Performing “Propaganda” at the Freedom Festival in Troy, NY – 2019

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)

Old Songs, New Skin!(Marika Hughes, FV, Darius Jones)
‘There They Are’ featured on Barn Songs (Northern Spy). Video of actual take on album
FULL concert video from Music Unlimited Wels in November 2021 in Wels, Austria


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!