Hailey Niswanger – PDX Soul

Hailey Niswanger was already getting rave reviews as a teenager. A listen to the saxophonist’s PDX Soul (2015) tells why.

Niswanger is accompanied by a variable lineup of players. Errick Lewis, and AG Donnaloia, guitar; appear on all tracks. Janice Scroggins handles keys on all but one song.

A groovy bass line greets the ear on the first track, “I’m Gone.” It’s an upbeat, see ya, I’m outta here kind of song. Niswanger plays the soprano on this one. Her lead is lighthearted, almost romantic, but not sugary sweet as a lot of soprano sax-led songs of this style tend to be. Lewis is dynamic throughout. Drummer Brian Foxworth makes a substantial contribution, though mainly as background. Donnaloia, Scroggins and Colligan also get busy. After a mostly easygoing, playful lead, Niswanger cuts loose big time. As if the proclamation of leaving weren’t convincing, she becomes emphatic, assertive during a sequence after the middle break. Then the two keyboard players take over, one out front and the other providing fills. It gives the song a late-1960s, early ’70s type of soulful instrumental sound. Not all the musicians get to solo here, but everyone makes a statement.

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