Sunday, March 8, 2015

Album Review: Victor & Penny and Their Loose Change Orchestra- Live at the Living Room Theatre

My initial reaction when I first encountered Victor & Penny at The Brick four or five years ago was crass.

“I could sell that,” I thought.

I knew that the beautiful woman and the extraordinary guitarist performing the Great American Songbook would appeal to the moneyed country club set and to young fans of folk revivalists like Mumford & Sons.

The new album Live at the Living Room Theatre showcases an expanded version of the ensemble.  Saxophonist James Isaac and bassist Rick Willoughby, men admired for their contributions to Kansas City’s jazz community, join Erin McGrane and Jeff Frelin under the banner of the “Loose Change Orchestra.”

The core duo doesn’t categorize its music as jazz.  Instead, they’ve deftly sidestepped the issue of genre by using the term “antique pop.” It makes sense- Victor & Penny apply the same Tin Pan Alley treatment to contemporary material like Howard Iceberg’s “Indiscreet” as they give to Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.”

The premise would be overly cute if the musicians weren’t outstanding. Frelin and Isaac are virtuosos.

The new album isn’t the work that’s going to make Victor & Penny stars, but it’s an excellent calling card that should allow the ambitious duo to advance its career.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

No comments: