Imagine the lyrical sounds of the tenor sax as sophisticated equally in blue jeans and a tee as all decked out for a glamour event headlining at a prestigious club. Roxy Coss brings a sensibility of no-nonsense to her playing that defies and defeats any notion of how or who should play the instrument. Her spirit is textured by a demand for the ear to just listen and to let go of any antiquated, artificial, gender-infused politic.

An advocate and activist for women in jazz, Coss not only demands a level playing field, she leads as one of the levellers. Her artistry is informed by a respect for the legacy of jazz as a creation of Black America. The Women in Jazz Organization was founded by Coss and she is the organization’s president. Leading the vanguard is simply her way, and it is also how she plays. She’s centre-stage when out in front of the band, and she’s a wise, well-tooled, supporting player when in or of the band.

Her mother is a visual artist. The duality of the arts is evident in the colours she presents in the lines of her own music and her keen interpretations of the best. The colours are as deep and rich as the timbres of the textures of the sound of the instruments in her arsenal, including clarinet, bass clarinet, flute and soprano sax. She has also written for dance, and that way of expressing emotion and story is as playful in the Roxy Coss soundscape.