If confidence and creativity are the cornerstones of sexy, then violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt is the sexiest woman in the avant-garde. In any of her regular gigs -- with Dada rockers Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, eclectic chamber group Tin Hat, or various free-improv combos with forward-jazz leaders like Satoko Fujii -- she conveys power with her world-class instrumental technique, compositional vision, and stage presence. No wonder SFJAZZ chose her newest group, 2 Foot Yard, as the local headliner in its must-hear "Discovery Series." Kihlstedt's collaboration with Charming Hostess cellist/vocalist Marika Hughes and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily distills the progressive essence of its frontwoman's kindred spirits (from Paganini to Coltrane to Bjork) into accessible pop songs. On Borrowed Arms, the trio's second recording, every tune is magic: the melodies crystalline, the harmonies supple and complex, the rhythms offbeat and groove-deep. The title track, a dreamy waltz, embraces the listener with angel wings, while "Crisis," a bent homage to self-empowerment, entrances with its epic arrangement. Then there's "Red-rag & Pink-flag," an alt-pop torch song of sorts, on which Kihlstedt teases with e.e. cummings' words: "Some like it in the twot." The lyrics, tone, phrasing, and melody are pure seduction. Kihlstedt dares you to resist. 2 Foot Yard celebrates its CD release at SFJAZZ's "Discovery Series: Eclectic Alchemy."
Iron & the Albatross opens.
Sat., March 8, 8 p.m., 2008