Welcome to Sazaraz, the debut EP from Brittany Purdy, has a lot to say, especially considering its short run time. A New York native calling New Orleans home since 2013, Brittany has been soaking in the local music osmotically, and has fused that with her experiences with pop, funk, and jazz up north. Having written music her whole life but only recently begun performing publicly, she came out full force with a residency at the Maple Leaf Bar. But it makes sense: Her vocal facility, keen ear for harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and songwriting prowess showcased on the EP fit right in on that historic stage, a place frequented by the first-call musicians fleshing out her songs. Strong soloists and groove purveyors all, here they demonstrate tasteful restraint and attention to accompaniment to showcase Brittany’s strengths.
Her main partner is bassist Charlie Wooton, a local favorite with a strong presence here: producing and playing, co-writing a couple of the songs, and performing regularly with Brittany in more intimate duo settings. The bass-forward approach consequently employed is a refreshing take on the singer-songwriter idiom and helps propel the music forward. Brittany’s music stands on its own, but having such a strong musical partner with such evident chemistry certainly doesn’t hurt.
The musical diversity and depth adds another layer of interest: Keiko Komaki on organ, electric, and acoustic pianos; Charlie playing bossa nova-style chordal accompaniment on one song and smooth Jaco Pastorius–influenced fretless lines on the next; Terence Higgins running the gamut of drum grooves from Brazilian to New Orleans–flavored Caribbean, second line to swing, shuffle to brush ballad; and the mellow flugelhorn lines of Eric Benny Bloom serving as a great foil to the normally bombastic New Orleans brass style that he’s more than capable of. Brittany’s intimate words and often subdued delivery, full of hope, joy, sensitivity and charm, could border on saccharine for some tastes, but one could never question her sincerity, skill, or thoughtfulness, all of which are exemplified by the coda to the EP, her love song to New Orleans. A promising debut—Brittany and her band have a lot more in store for us.