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Saxophonist Ally Fiola's new album is horn-heavy, joyous modern jazz

Saxophonist Ally Fiola leads an army of horns on her new album Interblaze
Ian Selig
Orange Grove Publicity
Saxophonist Ally Fiola leads an army of horns on her new album Interblaze

From the chilly maritime province of Nova Scotia comes a new album of hot, funky modern jazz from saxophonist Ally Fiola & The Next Quest. Released in March, Interblaze is a horn-powered party influenced by the New Orleans brass tradition and more.

Joyous grooves bounce through Fiola's album, but she also explores themes of grief and fear on Interblaze. Fiola is an experienced film composer, and her music is cinematic and emotionally vibrant.

Special guest Jeff Coffin plays powerful tenor saxophone through most of the album, but it's sousaphone player Addison Sowery-Quinn (along with Fiola) who brings the most personality to Interblaze.

That thumping, breathy bass line syncs with Andrew Miller's funky swinging behind the drums to define the tempo on songs like the soulful "Circular Beginnings," the gear-shifting "Intuition" and the deceptively complex title track that leads off Interblaze.

Fiola's intricate horn arrangements, also including Chris Mitchell's baritone sax and the trombone of Simon Oakley, dance around her quirky melodies and bloom into flowing solo improvisation.

Kurdish rock guitarist Shvan Kaban leans into his distortion pedal to introduce the heavy blues of "Thoughts of Home," Fiola's composition that was nominated for the 2022 Marvin Hamlisch International Music Awards.

The lovely, ruminative waltz "Rocket Sunrise" features Glenn Patscha's bubbling organ, and the versatile keyboardist is also featured on acoustic piano and accordion.

She's the only horn on "Rocket Sunrise," but Fiola utilizes her talented Next Quest band to great effect on her own compositions and the album's satisfying closer, "Amazing Grace."

Beginning in a thoughtful gospel atmosphere, Fiola kicks the group into a funky middle section quoting the Bill Withers classic "Lean On Me." Patscha's churchy organ solo leads into a conversation between the horns that's quickly dominated by a thrilling stretch from Fiola that would surely bring a live crowd to their feet.

Swinging, funky, thoughtful and engaging, Fiola's Interblaze is an exciting second album from this Canadian talent. It's also a celebration of Nova Scotia's finest musicians, making it sound like they're just down the road from New Orleans.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.