Sasha Masakowski was partly responsible for one of my favorite tracks of 2017: the title song of the Masakowski Family’s N.O. Escape CD, a jazz-pop hybrid with a mystical groove and a beautiful double-tracked vocal by Sasha. That album (and her occasional band Hildegard) served notice that Masakowski, who started performing as a traditional jazz vocalist, was off on a highly promising, far more eclectic direction.
That promise is fulfilled on this CD, which shows her with scads of musical ideas and the skills to carry them off. The samba “Entropy” is just as grabbing as the above track: Once again, the melody is well-suited to her breathy and understated delivery. Father Steve Masakowski steps in for a fitting lyrical solo. But that’s one of the most straightforward tracks here, and the ideas flow freely: “Juicy Booty Song” isn’t the funk number the title suggests, but a haunting goth-style piece built on her layered vocals and keyboards, building tension for three minutes before guitarist Cliff Hines breaks it with a stinging solo. And she makes a vocal showpiece out of “Interplay,” which adds lyrics to the Bill Evans classic and features some otherworldly scatting.
To some extent the album is about reimagining local traditions: The opening “Jockamo/Candy” revisits “Iko Iko” as a darker love song, its feel more ghost-dance than street parade. The finale, “Struttin’ With Some Barbeque,” begins as a doctored/sampled version of the Armstrong classic, until the full band kicks in for a more old-school rendition, which also makes way for programmed drums and a hip-hop bassline. Her voice is joyful throughout; the sound isn’t two cultures colliding but easily strutting together.