When one thinks of what a jazz quartet is made up of, a cello is not usually one of the first instruments that comes to mind. Kye Marshall, with her sixth album release, Pencil Blues, once again reminds listeners that jazz is for the taking and never limited. The cello, which often is thought of in a classical context, breaks free of any preconceived borders of its instrumentation in the hands of Marshall. For those who have not heard of her, her background includes classical but extends into jazz (having studied it in York University and the Banff School of Fine Arts), and reaches out into avant-garde.
Marshall is joined by Don Thompson (Bass), Andrew Scott (Guitar), Ethan Ardelli (Drums), Mark Duggan (Percussion), Kent Teeple (Viola). These experienced veterans of the Toronto music scene support and improvise along side Marshall in setting that sticks close to the bop side of jazz. The first song aptly named, “Cello-ing,” gives listeners a taste of her musical chops in a straight-ahead bop setting (and boy, does she swing!). She proceeds to show an array of versatility as the album progresses by injecting Latin grooves and funk beats into her compositions. One of the most outstanding parts on this album is her fusion of Classical and jazz music into a pair of songs called, “I Remember Johann Sebastian,” and it’s introductory counterpart. Those acquainted with popular jazz standards will notice that it is a clever mash-up of “I Remember April” and the Bach Cello Suites. As a composer, improviser, and cellist, Kye Marshall stands as a person can do it all, and Pencil Blues is an excellent example that. It is an album that provides one with fresh and exciting music on a vibrant and lyrical instrument. (Independent, www.kylemarshall.com) Ben Hunter-Dearman