While saxophonist Roxy Coss may have model looks and unflappable poise — she’s also an utterly refreshing instrumentalist on her sophomore release, Restless Idealism. Having honed her talent as a member of trumpeter Jeremy Pelt’s band along with a three-year residency with her quintet at Smoke Jazz Club where many of these songs were born, this all-originals album favors listener-friendly tracks like the bubbly “Don’t Cross The Coss,” the mid-tempo swinger, “Waiting,” and a particularly sumptuous ballad, “Happiness Is A Choice.” Outstanding rhythmic support underscores the quality of Coss’s writing — pianist Chris Pattishall, guitarist Alex Wintz, bassist Dezron Douglas and Willie Jones III on drums create the kind of excitement and opportunities for interplay that make records like this so good.
I watched Coss, a natural storyteller and leader, in front of a standing room only crowd at her CD release party at Smalls in New York in January and she mopped the floor with a killer combination of style, licks and technique – all of which is applied at full strength on this impressive record. Restless will please fans that adore early Shorter, Trane and Jazz Messenger’s-era Hank Mobley. Just hang on when she and guest star Pelt race through “Push,” a speedball of a tune where the pleasure is all about keeping up. (10 tracks; 57 minutes)