‘Her playfulness is infectious’: meet the 12-year-old behind 2022’s most beguiling album

Known for his wide-ranging collaborations, LA jazz outsider Sam Gendel’s latest finds uninhibited common ground with his partner’s little sister, Antonia Cytrynowicz

Sam Gendel and Antonia Cytrynowicz are two of experimental pop music’s most unlikely creative partners. Gendel, 35, is the Los Angeles saxophonist who has lent his talents to records by Vampire Weekend, Maggie Rogers and Perfume Genius, all while maintaining a prolific solo practice that’s among the most appealingly unpredictable in modern jazz. Cytrynowicz is a classic multi-hyphenate – a singer-songwriter who produces her own tracks on GarageBand, dancer, visual artist and actor who’s also a fan of classic 70s rock bands like Rush and Bread. She’s also 12.

In reality, the pair are a natural fit. They’ve known each other for a while now – Cytrynowicz is the younger sister of Gendel’s partner, Marcella. Their debut album together, Live a Little, is the product of a little under an hour’s worth of recording at Gendel’s studio, Cytrynowicz conjuring melodies and lyrics in the moment as Gendel played saxophone, guitar and a few other instruments: the resulting record sounds a little like if FKA twigs tried to reinterpret long-lost jazz standards. “We got to do that really vulnerable, intimate thing of improvising together,” Gendel recalls. He shaped the recordings as lightly as possible, “trying to keep the spirit of what it was intact, all the way to the end.”

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