Certainly one of 2017's more offbeat releases, The Pythiad refers not to Pythias, wife of Aristotle, but to the Pythia, the high priestess of the oracle at Delphi. Here, in the singing and speech of Cheryl Wilson, she recounts the stories of some of the lesser-known figures of ancient Greek mythology, functioning as a kind of psychotherapist figure. Wilson forges a matter-of-fact, but not-easy-to-achieve vocal simplicity that avoids jazz idioms (at least until the three independent jazz pieces at the end of the program), as well as classical vocal styles. The music is by soprano saxophonist and bandleader Jim Gailloreto, whose son, Coleman Gailloreto, wrote the text, a nifty mix of ancient Greek and contemporary rhetoric. The jazz component in the work is less than you might guess from the Jazz String Quintet, although it increases as the work proceeds; we're talking classical-influenced 1960s jazz with stringed instruments here, although the double bass keeps the music in touch with jazz roots. This all sounds like an utterly disparate set of elements, but it hangs together: the jazz soloist is really Wilson's voice, and the declamatory quality of the text suggests gospel roots. Plus, you get a kind of review of Greek classical literature. Recommended.