Masse’s voice is perfectly natural and fresh—lush and supple. She is neither married to the melody nor has the compulsion to show off vocal fireworks. —All About Jazz
In 2013, vocalist Heather Masse and jazz pianist Dick Hyman made a record together called Lock My Heart. Together, they went over standards with a great sense of the catchy hooks in the timelessly melodic. It was a true folk-jazz meeting of the minds in heartfelt music.
Now, the singer with the chart-topping folk trio, The Wailin’ Jennys, will pair up with free jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd (Archie Shepp), 80, for the upcoming August Love Song. Scheduled for release on February 26, 2016 on Red House Records, August Love Song sounds like another winner.
Singing to a piano accompaniment makes sense. But a trombone? That seems a stretch, even for miracle worker Masse. She thought so too, and yet… “The trombone and voice seem like an unlikely duo, but Roswell and I found a blend, and presence with each other that at its core is two voices, listening and connecting with each other,” Masse said in a recent press release.
Rudd, aka The Incredible Honk, agreed. “We have the kind of sonic embrace, organic collaboration, that is rare and with Heather it is exceptional.”
Masse and Rudd first got acquainted through A Prairie Home Companion as special guests. That’s when they also found out they lived in the same Catskills of New York. Naturally, the two enjoyed weekly jam sessions out of the trombonist’s living room, which then turned into this album — also recorded from Rudd’s home.
“Social Call,” the first single off the new album, works with the unlikely vocal-trombone pairing. Rather, they make it work, Rudd’s gruff trombone perks against Masse’s smooth, lustrous vocals lapsing into an easy brass-compatible scatting.
“Roswell has pushed me to stretch my limits and has helped me to find sounds and timbres in my voice that I never knew were there. I’ve learned so much from collaborating with his big sound and spirit,” Masse added.
Rudd and Masse headline a show in New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge this Sunday for the trombonist’s 80th birthday. They’ll perform along with other special guests, including Ethan Lipton and his orchestra.
August Love Song features Rudd’s own compositions, those of his partner Verna Gillis and Masse, as well as new arrangements of some classics by Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and the Gershwins.