‘Buzz and Bloom” is Nicole Saphos’s second recording as a bandleader, but she already knows her music up and down. As a vocalist and a bassist, “I’m on the top end and the bottom,” the Maryland jazz musician says. “So I’m really conscious of those two things being in balance. . . . I think my vocals have made my bass playing really melodic. And I think my bass playing has influenced my phrasing in a rhythmic way.”
As a singer, Saphos cites an affinity with Fiona Apple and Nellie McKay, and as a bassist, she points to the stunts of Charles Mingus and the telepathy that Israel Crosby shared with pianist Ahmad Jamal in the ’50s and ’60s. To hear what happens when all of those influences gently swirl together, cue up the title track from “Buzz & Bloom,” where Saphos allows her lyrics — about the tension of the creative moment — to go breezy over a tiptoed bass line.
Saphos says the phrase “buzz and bloom” jumped out at her from a book of poems by Adrienne Rich — at first, simply because the strings on her upright bass actually buzz when the weather gets cold. “But I also think of the buzz as the anxiety around creativity, and having ideas that aren’t out in the world yet, and thinking of the best way to get them out,” she says. “The buzz isn’t the best feeling, but then there’s the bloom. Just that brief, fleeting moment when everything suddenly comes together.”
Shows: April 28 at 9 p.m. at Blue House Studios, 4213 Howard Ave., Kensington. $17 in advance, $20 at the door. May 17 at 8 p.m. at Milkboy Arthouse, 7416 Baltimore Ave., College Park. $15.