Roxana Amed




I had goose-bumps before she had even started singing, so disturbing were the guitar chords. The bass, brushes and piano then compound the unease, and the wonder is that when Roxana Amed’s voice and Mark Small’s tenor saxophone join, they deepen the mystery further. Amed, a US-based Argentinean, writes or co-writes most of the material, and she is one of the few genuine jazz vocalists whose songs are not only as compelling as her singing, they actually play to the strengths of her voice.

The darkness of her contralto is matched by that of the words, melodies and harmonies, so that the effect is like being cast adrift in musical world that eschews resolutions; akin to finding oneself in a brooding Turner painting, with no horizon and therefore no reference points. It is as though Amed and her brilliant band have just invented jazz, and put a unique slant on it that is partly exhilarating Latin flights and partly the hushed, interval-leaping options of contemporary art music. It is not just sophisticated musically, but emotionally, primarily speaking to us from the abyss of love and death; leading us to complex places and leaving us there to find our own way home. Exceptional.