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Swiss, Berlin-based jazz vocalist-bandleader Lucia Cadotsch has a new quartet featuring British pianist-organist Kit Downes (who joined Cadotsch’s expanded Speak Low band), bassist Phil Donkin, and drummer James Maddren, and a new album, her tenth as a leader, AKI, released on Cadotsch’s mentor, American guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Heartcore Records. Rosenwinkel guests on two songs on AKI.

The ten original songs of AKI were composed collectively by the quartet, allowing all the musicians to reimagine and reinterpret each other’s pieces through their own musical lenses and deepen the mutual rapport, but all are also embracing Cadotsch’s clear delivery in a warm atmosphere. Cadotsch describes AKI as an emotional experience with «a supportive team of people who really listen, and trust me». This kind of close dynamics allows Cadotsch to explore and celebrate the perspectives of female protagonists to the fullest while reflecting on her own experiences as a bandleader in a rather male-dominated, normative music environment.

The songs blend Cadotsch’s idiosyncratic wordplay and imagery and Downes‘ rich, layered soundscapes. The addition of the rhythm section of Donlkin and Maddrenwas born out of the desire to expand the sonic possibilities of the Cadotsch and Downes and to inject the music with new angles. Cadotsch opens AKI with a series of strong statements of boundary-setting proclamations on «I Won’t”. She continues to tell stories about lost loves and failed relationships but from an uncompromising feminist perspective. «Medusa’s Champagne» presents the terrifying mythological figure of Medusa as a creature of sensuality. Cadotsch covers the visceral Brecht/Weill’s «Ballad of the Drowned Girl» («Ballade Vom Ertrunkenen Mädchen») about the murder ballad of revolutionary Marxist and anti-war activist Rosa Luxemburg (which she already covered with Speak Low II, We Jazz, 2020) as an intimate duet with Donkin and transforms this song into a touching homage to the brave heroine.

Eyal Hareuveni

Lucia Cadotsch (v), Kit Downes (p, organ), Phil Donkin (b), James Maddren (dr), Kurt Rosenwinkel (g)

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