Susanne Alt has put together a terrific band. If you’re looking for a modern straight ahead jazz album I think you’d like this.

Venus Tunes

Susanne Alt – Alto Saxophone, Flute, Percussion; James Hurt – Fender Rhodes, Piano; Gerald Cannon – Bass; Willie Jones III – Drums; Robert Glass – Percussion (Tracks 3 & 5)

Susanne Alt’s ROYALTY FOR REAL is dedicated to master trumpeter Roy Hargrove. The Amsterdam based saxophonist recorded it in New York with some outstanding American musicians. Alt composed all the music except for ‘Roy Allan’, penned by Roy Hargrove, and one of the prettier tunes on the album, Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘The Nearness Of You.’

Alt was born in Germany and played classical saxophone as a teenager. At 18 she moved to the Netherlands to study jazz saxophone. She’s now part of the Amsterdam music scene with her own quartet. She’s also a member of the all-female dance music group, Venus Tunes which is also the name of her record label.

Some of Alt’s favorite musicians are George Clinton, James Brown, and Fred Wesley so expect some funk when you listen to her. Gerald Cannon on bass and drummer Willie Jones III keep a nice soulful groove going throughout ROYALTY FOR REAL.

Alt’s tenor has a nice tone. She’s easy to listen to. She’s got tons of technique. I wish she’d embrace her love of funk a little more. A lot of ROYALTY FOR REAL would sound right at home on smooth jazz radio. This is not music from Parliament, Funkadelic, or The Horny Horns.

I like James Hurt’s more subtle approach to the often overbearing Fender Rhodes. Hurt reminds me of what Joe Sample was doing in the 70s, and that’s a good thing. His solo on ‘Roy Allan ’sounds great on top of the rhythm machine of Cannon and Jones III.

‘Bel Air Bop ’is an uptempo ode to those late-night jam sessions in The Hague’s Bel Air Hotel. Alt stretches a little, hitting more high notes and sounding really good. Hurt’s on regular piano and he makes full use of the instrument’s dynamic range. Alt’s band is tight. They make it all sound like child’s play.

Roy Hargrove liked the ballad ’The Nearness Of You ’and I bet he would have liked the way Alt plays it. Her lovely tone is breathy. There’s a touch of vibrato.

There’s a lot to like on ROYALTY FOR REAL. Susanne Alt has put together a terrific band. If you’re looking for a modern straight ahead jazz album I think you’d like this.