Greetings and Happy Holidays to you all! Wishing everyone a wondrous holiday season and a prosperous and positive 2019.2018 has been some year on the world stage with a swift wind change right in politics around the world.Watching the news makes everything seem grim or how it all is coming to a dismal end.Climate change notwithstanding, there is still lots of positivity around the world.People trying to enjoy and simplify their lives as best they can.I spent most of the autumn in amazing cities: Seattle, San Francisco, Long Beach, Rome, Venice, Krakow, Poland and Mexico City. Everywhere the similar thread was so many homeless among the opulence. Affluent folk peering in at the lives of people either catering to their whims or somehow superficially related to outside perceptions. Yet I also met people happy with their lives as is. Content. At peace. No longer searching if they ever were. Except for music, maybe, in time of need. I was amazed to discover in Mexico that anyone can sing with Mariachi musicians and people DO when they are sad or full of heartbreak over jilted lover. This is how normal folk come out to relieve themselves of the pain of loss and more, in community. One example of how it is still a big beautiful world out there and if you can, go out and taste it.
After all this moving around, I’m firmly planted back in NYC for sometime and so much good stuff is coming up.January is chock full of goodies including the Herbie Nichols Centennial Celebration at The Stone that I’m honored to curate + my Mutations for Justice project is on the Winter JazzFest January 12th 2019 at SOB’s. Before we hit 2019, please join me at the 55BAR for the last performance of the year: at the 55BAR with Old Songs, New Skin. Come and join us for a toast to kissing 2018 goodbye!
DEC 27Old Songs, New Skin
FV – voice, compositions
Marika Hughes – cello
Darius Jones – alto saxophone
55 Christopher Street
No Cover, 2 drink minimum
Seriously though, sending the best wishes for a safe, fun and rewarding holiday season + a spanking new and prosperous 2019. I am so grateful for everyone’s support this year of the music and projects I’m involved in and coming out to shows. I could not do what I do without working with and in front of great people. Incredible to be on record with Marc Ribot, Nicole Mitchell and my own SoundNoiseFUNK in 2018, amazed that all of these projects were well received by music lovers as well as the critics.
Happy Halloween which with all that is happening around us, seems the most benign of holidays as the horrors around us are real.Difficult to feel inspired and positive some days yet being creative continues to feed a sense of solidarity and community and a place to release what I’m feeling in a way an audience can hear it.I’m back a few days from the West Coast – first at Earshot Jazz Festival & Cornish School for the Arts and then in residency at University of California at Irvine.Throughout performance, talks and instruction I kept informing as much as I could about freedom from within, expansive thinking and taking social responsibility in these times.Not everybody has a comment to make or cares to but if you have something to share, then do so – because we all need to hear it.No matter how strong my words were, the feedback that came my way from the audience was they needed to hear these thoughts, they needed to know that their thoughts and feelings are not alone out here.Be brave and do it!
As November approaches and the midterm elections are upon us do your civic duty and vote.I’m voting early as I’m out of town on Election Day. We need to turn this around. To that end – here is a Video I made called Sleep On It, mainly about Brett Kavanaugh but…well check it out here.The Pacific Ocean was the inspiration for the video too.
Some good news:SoundNoiseFUNK’s Wet Robots is up for grammy consideration in the Best Jazz Vocal Album Category! If you’re a NARAS member, please consider voting and/or spreading the word.Special thanks to the spectacular cellist Tomeka Reid for spearheading the push to get more creative music on the Grammys.This wouldn’t have happened without her nudge and work. Here’s a link to the album via band camp – thank you!
Some very special news: I’m honored to curate a four day celebration for the life of pianist/composer Herbie Nichols Centennial at the Stone in January 2019.Herbie Nichols would have been 100 years old on January 3 2019 and I can’t wait for this special presentation of his music which includes the Jazz Composers Collective, my Herbie Nichols SUNG project, an evening of Solo Recitations and Roswell Rudd’s Trombone Tribe playing mainly Herbie Nichols compositions I want this to be a great festival and also document each night for future jazz fans in general and Nichols’ fans in particular to have access to.To that end, I’m asking for a little help and started a GoFundMe Page. Please take a look and give what you can.I thank you in advance for your support.
Labor day weekend…for many a death knell to the end of summer. Life gets back to its normal rigor. Well, I’m asking what IS normal anymore, if there ever was such a thing. Seasons start to matter less as global warming creates a muddy connection. And American politics has flowered into a cruelty and blatancy not seen in my lifetime anyway. I’m not surprised at the reasons we’re here just surprised that we actually let it happen. So going ‘back’ to normal seems nostalgic or maybe the want of a memory that didn’t exist anyway. And how normal can any world feel with Aretha Franklin and now Randy Weston gone?
Strange times to be and feel positive yet I have to try. Keep moving on into worlds and spaces that feel enriching and open possibilities for what might be possible. This idea is at work this month with a new recording project of old material that Jochem van Dijk and I wrote when we began our writing life together at the end of the 90’s. Before the compositions for the Fay Victor Ensemble and back when our song forms resembled many others. Revisiting these songs with Darius Jones (alto saxophone) and Marika Hughes (cello) at the 55BAR the last few years has been a revelation in how much I still love these tunes and how now and within this sound world, they seem brand new. I look forward to sharing this when it comes out in 2019. Here is a video taken by Gerald van Wilgen that captures the special 55BAR vibe…and some surprises:
Deeper into September I’ll delve into another sound world for a first time performance with pianist extraordinaire Myra Melford, performing both of our music as well as improvising with Marika Hughes joining us on SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 at the Greenwich House. Back at the 55BAR on September 27th with SONGS We LOVE (w Sean Conly & Michael Vatcher), closing out the month on the InGardens in DUO with bassist Brandon Lopez – a first!
CREATIVE IMPROV WORKSHOP IV is coming up soon too, starting September 18 2018 for over 4 consecutive TUESDAYS at I-BEAM in Brooklyn, NY. Click the link HERE to learn more about the course and spread the word. Or drop an email to email@example.com
*In other SEPT news, A new Marc Ribot record is coming out this month and I am delighted to perform three songs on Songs of Resistance, an album of old and new protest songs with guest artists such as Steve Earle, Meshell Ndegeocello, Tom Waits and more. This will be epic.
The word is getting out about my latest release with SoundNoiseFUNK – WET ROBOTS (ESP-Disk) with some great feedback on the press front. Fantastic that so far people not only dig the music but really get what we do as a group. after the quotes, checkout the links to purchase/listen and share this music. Will add a clip from WinterJazzFest 2018 at the end.
4 ½ STARS – Downbeat Magazine “Wet Robots is a program of thoughtful particulars, but it’s Victor’s acrobatics that mesmerize. Unabashed when it comes to sound creation, one can hear the passion in every syllable she utters, whether manic or modest. With echoes of Lauren Newton and Meredith Monk, the singer builds a web of personalized pieces that boast exuberance, with each warble, shriek and roar crafting a ferocious identity. Informed by blues and politics, their cagey deployment is downright entrancing, especially when bolstered by this kind of collective clout.” –Jim Macnie, Downbeat Magazine (+HotBox), October 2018
“Singer Fay Victor is the solution to so many “What is the role of the singer in jazz today?” puzzles. The role, Victor proves throughout Wet Robots, is anything at all, anything the imagination allows. …On a third or fourth pass through this remarkable document—and what can only be called a narrowly focused part of Fay Victor’s art, as she has fronted many bands with many different instrumentations and approaches—I felt I needed to rethink what “jazz” singing really could or ought to be so many years after talents like Betty Carter, Nina Simone, and Cassandra Wilson had dared to begin redefining it. Victor is at another level of freedom and daring and creativity. Sure, this kind of music is at the arty margin, but Victor proves that this kind of abstract singing is also flesh and blood and heart and earth.
‘I sing to save my life / I sing to look human’, Fay Victor makes clear.” –Will Layman, Popmatters (8/10)
“This record stands out from the usual free jazz gestures and credit belongs to Victor. It’s not just that this is her band, but her unique singing concept leads the way. She has a familiar toolbox of vocal sounds, but it’s the way she uses her notes that matter—she has exceptional intonation and it sounds like it comes effortlessly, so she improvises with pitches and melodically logical and coherent tonal phrases. On top of that, she manages the challenging high-wire act of improvising text while always keeping it interesting and fresh. It’s a measure of a first-rate intelligence— take that F. Scott Fitzgerald.”…As abstract as most of this is, the earth of the blues comes through almost every track, often with power…” —George Grella, NYCJR, September 2018
The idea of developing an avant-garde ‘dance’ group has been on my mind for sometime. I love dance music, was a club head myself (even a member of the legendary Paradise Garage). As an improvisor I’ve wanted to develop a project that you can move to while still enabling deep improvising spaces to play in. In thinking about this for a few years – the idea of what that group looked very different. Then there was the beginning of the SoundNoise Trio that inadvertently lead to an avant project….from the kernel comes out a new corn.
I started SoundNoise with drummer/percussionist Reggie Nicholson and soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome in 2015 as an open exploration that hit hard our first time out. As SoundNoise performed, I thought about how to pursue improvisation at the core of the group while keeping a pulse in the music that was organic and alive. Arriving at SoundNoiseFUNK (the addition of guitarist Joe Morris), a funk-driven free improvisational unit with a penchant for exploring this and more sonic terrain while keeps the groove going. SoundNoiseFUNK has performed on the Vision Festival, Capital Bop (Wash. DC), New Revolution Arts, the Arts for Art InGarden Series and most recently at the WinterJazzFest 2018 where Downbeat magazine had this to say about the group’s performance:
“…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. Watch for the upcoming debut recording on the ESP-Disk label by this extraordinary musical collective.”-Bill Milkowski, Downbeat Magazine
I am very excited about the group and project…look forward to sharing the music with you all. And keep your eyes on the FV gig pages as the SoundNoise TRIO will hit the road in Fall 2018!
Personnel: Fay Victor – voice, text, conceptualist
Sam Newsome – soprano saxophone
Joe Morris – electric guitar
Reggie Nicholson – drums Recorded August 4, 2017 at Park West Studios RELEASE DATE: JUNE 29 2018
“If jazz is the sound of surprise, this album startles – a sonic funhouse of left turns.The band floats in its own space, untethered by a bass. Morris’ guitar moves like a snake. Newhouse keens, taps, sighs on the straight horn. Nicholson makes his percussion set-ip a skittering, rattling thing. Then there is Fay her voice…as attuned to unfettered expression as Albert Ayler’s tenor.”