Legendary in the Bay Area for her irreverent sense of humor as well as her mix of numerous jazz-related styles -- Monk, Chopin, Piazzola, Waller, Bach, Bill Evans -- pianist Gini Wilson (aka "The Duchess") founded this current ensemble with reedsman Steve Heckman in 2002. Effortlessly and beautifully blending the realms of jazz and classical (the eight-minute opener "Un Amor un Poco Tragico" eases effortlessly from a classical hypnosis to a playful swing vibe), the group features bassist Pat Klobas and drummer Ron Marabuto. Their previous CD, The Crossing Point, created a unique hybrid incorporating everything from Wayne Shorter and Erik Satie to world music and Nuevo Tango. Anchored by Wilson's deft playing and quick-shifting moodswings, SFCJQ continues this exploration with the help of guest vocalist Jackie Ryan (graceful and romantic on "Separate Ways," swinging wittily on "Lucky Monkey") and a centerpiece contribution from Cape Verde Islands composer Amandio Cabral ("Suave Duqueza," very much a biography of Wilson both literally and musically). Wilson's tunes dominate among the originals, but Heckman's playful, strutting "O Town Blues" is good old- fashioned bebop away from the classical tone completely. Projects like this prove that with a little ingenuity, seemingly disparate musical styles can actually create perfect harmony.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran