Lap Hen

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Bookended by a pair of Duke Ellington covers ("Blue Pepper" and "Virgin Jungle"), Lap Hen captures a composite live set by Viperhouse over a pair of nights in their home state of Vermont. The mix is rich and organic-sounding, grounded by Ray Packowski's sweet-sounding organ work. The band fits together perfectly in the live setting, managing to create a full sound without stepping on each other's toes. Horn lines dart between the rhythm section to create a lively, bubbling groove. As always, vocalist Heloise Williams' voice rides atop and evokes the feel of smoky, swinging Paris cafes. Her last album with the group before her departure early the next year, Lap Hen showcases Williams more than the band's previous releases, including three fine original compositions of hers (two written in collaboration with bassist Rob Morse). The band's improvisation is invigorating as they effortlessly slide between group improvisations, solos, and song structures.

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