• Juan Martin Koch
  • Monika Roscher

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a jazz big band led by a masked woman with an electric guitar strapped around her neck, but that was before I heard the Monika Roscher Big Band. On the group’s recent debut album, Failure in Wonderland (Enja), the 29-year-old composer, singer, guitarist, and arranger from a small village in Bavaria fearlessly collides disparate musical worlds with seemingly little regard to how they mesh. Her melodies and singing, to say nothing of the occasional skronking guitar solo, belong to the indie-rock world, but her 18-piece band usually sounds like a typical university big band—precise, blocky, and more than a little bit square.