Sophisticated Lady

Sophisticated Lady is four guys—J.J. Kirkpatrick, trumpet/flugelhorn; Misha Bigos, piano; Gary Wicks, bass, and Andrew Boyle, drums—who met at USC during their graduate studies. Their CVs include work with Manhattan Transfer, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Diana Krall and Plas Johnson, to name just a few. The music is rich and very fresh sounding, thanks to Yarlung Records, an audiophile label that chose to record the CD in a specially constructed concert hall at USC. They open with a lively rendition of Jerome Kern's “I'm Old Fashioned,” which could also serve as Yarlung's motto, as its use of an “analog recorder with tube circuitry” epitomizes its “minimalist approach” to this album. Two Duke Ellington numbers, “Isfahan” and “Sophisticated Lady,” get terrific treatments from Kirkpatrick and Bigos. The rhythm section performs flawlessly throughout, especially on the two trio selections. Eight of the 12 tunes are written by the group and their music is more cerebral than foot-patting, especially “Fields of Kurdistan,” a ruminative solo featuring the pianist, whose composition it is. A production mix-up resulted in Bigos' “Ropes of Sand” (a peppy Latinate number with its composer moving into high gear) having its title switched with “Strange Fruit” (which gets a very strange interpretation).