Fay Victor / Herbie Nichols SUNG – Life Is Funny That Way
Fay Victor / Herbie Nichols SUNG – Life Is Funny That Way
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Fay Victor / Herbie Nichols SUNG – Life Is Funny That Way

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Released April 5, 2024 - Shipping Now!

[ TAO 15 ]

2CD – double-album in deluxe 6-panel digipak w/ 12pg full-color booklet featuring extensive liner notes by Kevin Whitehead & full lyrics by Fay Victor.
[ 2CD first edition of 1000 ]

2LP – double-album on black vinyl in deluxe gatefold sleeve w/ extensive liner notes by Kevin Whitehead & full lyrics by Fay Victor. Includes full-resolution download card.  [ 2LP in strictly ltd. one-time edition of 500 ]

* Also Available is the advance digital single, "The World Is Still The Same". It is from these same sessions, although not included in Fay's final sequence for the Album. Visit our Bandcamp page to listen/purchase download.


Fay Victor
: voice, lyrics, arrangements
Michaël Attias: alto & baritone saxophones
Anthony Coleman: piano

Ratzo Harris: bass

Tom Rainey: drums

Life Is Funny That Way is the major new work –a full decade in development– from acclaimed vocalist-soundartist-lyricist-bandleader Fay Victor. It is both a loving celebration and thorough reconsideration of the great jazz composer Herbie Nichols. This landmark work is also the first time that a full program of lyrics were written & recorded for Nichols’ compositions. The innovative and wholly contemporary arrangements –also by Victor– are brought to vibrant life by Herbie Nichols SUNG, a dedicated and profoundly gifted quintet of veteran jazz performers.

Though Fay Victor was born two years after the death of pianist-composer Herbie Nichols, these two native New Yorkers are connected by the space-time filament that is music...with a detour through Amsterdam.

Nearly 30 years ago while living in the Netherlands, Victor discovered and was captivated by Nichols’ music in the collection of her future husband. She first began to explore the concept of singing this tremendous work with Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg and then, with Mengelberg’s encouragement, together with trombonist and one-time Nichols collaborator Roswell Rudd.

It was in 2013 that Fay Victor formed the Herbie Nichols SUNG project with American players and began to present it regularly in NYC, adding to a European trio version that had already toured the continent. This deep and extensive artistic journey which Victor embarked on, alongside leading other acclaimed bands and recording projects of all- original material, eventually led to the enthused involvement of the TAO Forms label. Its creative director, drummer Whit Dickey, not only shared a great appreciation of Nichols’ singular work as a composer, but was also a long-time fan of the exceptionally gifted vocalist.

As The New York Times wrote of her work, “Jazz singers have always been asked to strike some balance between the proper and the personal, but Victor’s style is all hers: a mix of speech and song, words and abstraction, interior monologue and call to action.”

A decade later and ready, Life Is Funny That Way was recorded with veterans of Her- bie Nichols SUNG in Michaël Attias (alto & baritone saxophones), Anthony Coleman (piano), Ratzo Harris (bass), and relatively new addition Tom Rainey (drums). A tre- mendous group united by their mutual love of both Nichols’ writing and Victor’s estimable artistry. She and her band’s devoted and long-gestating work was exquisitely captured by engineer Andy Taub at his Brooklyn Recording studio. The source material comes from Nichols’ Blue Note sessions of 1955-56, plus three tunes not recorded in his lifetime though put to tape decades later by Mengelberg, Rudd and others.

Fay Victor’s success in turning these works into powerful songs is abundant.

In addition to fêting Nichols, Victor takes the opportunity to celebrate the person who gave him his greatest exposure. Billie Holiday was the first to write lyrics for one of his tunes, “Serenade”, making it one of her signature works: “Lady Sings The Blues”. As Victor explains, “I chose to include this song because I think about the audience a lot. If anybody knows Nichols at all, they know this song. But the other thing is that when Billie sang his song, she didn’t sing his bridge. So I wanted to sing the lyrics with his bridge. That was important to me. I wanted people to know what the complete composition sounded like. Those are great lyrics Billie Holiday wrote and it’s also an homage to her because sometimes I feel that she doesn’t get her full due in terms of how incredible a musician she was, how visionary she was.”

The erudite and extensive liner notes for Life Is Funny That Way –which include key elements of Nichols biography– were written by esteemed jazz critic & author Kevin Whitehead (NPR’s Fresh Air, et al.).

The April 5 album release was preceded by the non-album digital single, “The World Is Still The Same” (to Nichols’ “117th Street”), on January 30, 2024. That track is yet another striking creation from the same sessions, although not included in Victor’s final album sequence.

CD / LP Disc 1
1.  Life Is Funny That Way * (6:32) 

2.  The Bassist * (6:48) 

3.  Bright Butterfly * (2:49) 

4.  Sinners, All of Us! * (5:58) 

5.  The Culprit Is You * (10:00) 

6.  Shuffle Montgomery (5:33)

CD / LP Disc 2

7.  Tonight * (9:30) 

8.  Lady Sings The Blues (6:16) 

9.  Twelve Bars (2:51)
10. Descent Into Madness *  (9:59)

11. Non-Fraternization Clause * (6:12)

Compositions by Herbie Nichols

Lyrics & arrangements by Fay Victor

(except Lady Sings The Blues, lyrics by Billie Holiday)
* These tracks feature new lyrics & song titles by Fay Victor. Original compositions reference & publishing details are noted below.

Recorded & Mixed by Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording
Mastered by Paul Wickliffe at Skyline Underground

Produced by Fay Victor

Executive Producer: Whit Dickey for TAO Forms
Project Coordinator: Steven Joerg
Liner Notes: Kevin Whitehead

Photography by Deneka Peniston
Session photos by Jochem van Dijk
Art & Design by William Mazza Studio


Learn More About FAY VICTOR [ www.fayvictor.com ]

Herbie Nichols Original Compositions & Publishing Details:


1. “Life Is Funny That Way” is an adaptation of “Double Exposure” written by H. Nichols. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved.

2. “The Bassist” is an adaptation of “The Gig” written by H. Nichols. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
3. “Bright Butterfly” is an adaptation of “Another Friend” written by H. Nichols. Published by the Estate of Herbie Nichols (admin. by Kurt Boone). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
4. “Sinners, All Of Us!” is an adaptation of “The Happenings” written by H. Nichols. Published by the Estate of Herbie Nichols. (admin. by Kurt Boone) Used by permission. All rights reserved.
5. “The Culprit Is You” is an adaptation of “2300 Skiddoo” written by H. Nichols. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
6. “Shuffle Montgomery” is an adaptation of “Shuffle Montgomery” written by H. Nichols. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
7. “Tonight” is an adaptation of ““House Party Starting” written by H. Nichols. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
8. “Lady Sings The Blues” is an adaptation of “Lady Sings The Blues” written by H. Nichols and B. Holiday. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
9. “Twelve Bars” written by H. Nichols. Published by the Estate of Herbie Nichols. (admin. by Kurt Boone). Used by permission. All rights reserved.

10. “Descent Into Madness” is an adaptation of “The Spinning Song” written by H. Nichols. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permis-
sion. All rights reserved.
11. “Non-Fraternization Clause” is an adaptation of “Step Tempest” written by H. Nichols. Published by Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[+] the non-album digital-only single "The World Is Still The Same"  .. is a derivative work instrumentally known as "117th Street" by Herbie Nichols. © 1978, 2019, 2024 Twenty-Eighth Street Music