They are musical sophisticates with a knuckle-dragging name.
Cave Women, a jazz, folk and pop group composed of formally trained musicians in their 20s, derived the "Cave" part of the name from the first initials of original group members Casey Lipka, Alicyn Yaffee, Vanessa Cruz and Emily Messick.
Flutist Kim Davis joined the 18- month-old group a bit later than the others and became an integral part of its sound. But her initial missed the naming deadline.
"Mine is kind of in parentheses," Davis said with a smile.
Davis, 23, joined Cave Women bassist Lipka, 25, for an interview earlier this month at a Sacramento coffee house. The bandmates were in the midst of a busy December that included Davis' and Yaffee's graduations from California State University, Sacramento. The school is a nexus for Cave Women, which consists mostly of graduates of its music programs.
Davis, Lipka, drummer Cruz, 28, guitarist Yaffee, 21, and multi-instrumentalist Messick, 22, also are celebrating the release of Cave Women's self- titled debut album with a series of shows this month. The next is Saturday night at Sacramento International Airport, where Cave Women will perform as part of a holiday music series in Terminal B.
Jazz-based but laced with bossa nova and other pop influences, the CD contains gorgeous vocal harmonies and musically complex songs that reflect the player-composers' formal training yet remain highly accessible to pop fans.
"I feel like our music is approachable," Lipka said. "You have all the harmonies. There is a lot going on."
Cave Women's vocals and songwriting set the group apart, said Tom Monson, a respected Sacramento jazz drummer who has filled in with Cave Women when Cruz could not make a show.
"I don't know of any other band that is able to perform harmonies on that level they sing at a very high level," Monson said. "Their compositions also are at a high level (in) the way they are able to use their jazz structures, and harmonies and chords usually associated with jazz, but in songs that have a verse and a chorus."
The group and the sound developed organically, Lipka and Davis said.
"Alicyn and I started playing as a duo," Lipka said. "And then later Vanessa came and started playing with us, and then Emily started coming."
All the women compose songs, and everyone but Cruz takes turns on lead vocals.
"Whoever brings in a song, they will sing lead on it, and we will do background harmonies," Davis said. "We kind of sit down and figure it all out together."
The group is "a melting pot of all these different styles, because we all have different influences," Davis said. "And it is fun to bring those together."
Having so many composers and lead singers, thankfully, does not equal too many cooks, Lipka said.
"It's really refreshing, actually," Lipka said. "You get a different take. For Kim to bring in one of her compositions or for Alicyn to bring in one of her compositions, it is so different from the way I might think of coming in."
It helps that every group member reads music, Lipka and Davis said. But nobody is a snob about it.
During performances, "it's not like, 'Hello, we are Cave Women and we read music!' " Lipka said.
The "Women" part is not emphasized, either, Davis said. It's just how the group shaped up.
But there is a greater sense of ownership attached to the project than to other musical projects in which the busy musicians participate.
"There is more of a connection, I suppose, because these are our compositions," Lipka said.
"You spend so much time with the five of us," Davis said of Cave Women. "It really is like our baby."
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Terminal B, Sacramento International Airport, 6900 Airport Blvd., Sacramento