So, it’s gonna be Vocals Week on Bird is the Worm. I didn’t mean for it to happen that way, just got a deluge of vocal jazz albums in all at once (or at least, it felt that way). I’m really picky about the jazz vocals I like, and I’ve yet to discern any rhyme or reason for what floats my boat, so that should probably be taken into account when reading my little reviews. However, this site isn’t just supposed to be about what I and I alone likes, but to try to help readers out and point them in the direction of music they might take a shine to. Anyways, I tried to pick out some albums that either I liked or that I thought might have some appeal to others. Probably gonna do about two a day, though my track record of accurate predictions on this site is pretty shoddy, but that’s where we’re at.
Sue Halloran & Ken Hitchcock – I Can Cook Too
A nice set of originals and standards by jazz vet multi-instrumentalist Ken Hitchcock and talented vocalist Sue Halloran. With a big band that’s got their back, the duo gives us a nice set of swinging tunes full of snappy beats and lush orchestration. This ain’t typically my kind of thing, but maybe it was the warmth of the album clashing with the cold winter breeze banging up against the window or maybe it’s just the sign of talented musicians who are able to make a listener enjoy an album that typically ain’t their thing. Dunno. Probably both. In any event, it’s Spring now, and my ear hasn’t really changed its opinion of this album, so I really wanted to give it some ink here, because I’m betting there are some people out there who will really take a shine to it.
Your album personnel: Sue Halloran (vocals), Ken Hitchcock (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone saxes, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet), Carlos Franzetti (piano), Mark Soskin (piano), Gary Versace (B3 organ), Mike Holober (Fender Rhodes). David Finck (bass), Chip Jackson (bass), Romero Lubambo (guitar), Ray Marchica, Clint DeGanon (rums/percussion), Nick Marchione, Jim Hynes (trumpets), Keith O’Quinn, Mike Davis (trombone /bs trombone), and The City of Prague Philharmonic.
Some tracks are stronger than others, but even the weaker ones don’t ruin the album or anything, which, actually, counts for a lot in my book. The title track, in addition to being a fun song, is pretty much ready to serve for a Top Chef credits roll.
The album is Self-Produced.
Cathy Segal-Garcia & Yoon Seung Cho – Bohemian
On Bohemian, vocalist Cathy Segal-Garcia and pianist Yoon Seung Cho display a symbiosis that is communicated more through implication than direct interaction. Now, that’s not to say that the album is a lesson in subtlety; closer to describe it as a series of coordinated parallels. Garcia’s vocal inflections don’t always come to a meeting point with Cho’s angular tangents, but their respective parts are so often found in the same vicinity that it gives the impression of collaborators-in-note. That this is presented in a duet format makes it easy to switch between listening to them individually at the same time, while also interacting with the music as a fused musical expression. Kinda nifty, actually.
Your album personnel: Cathy Segal-Garcia (vocals) and Yoon Seung Cho (piano).
There’s a Nick Drake-like serenity to the opening track, though where Drake’s voice was pure velvet, Garcia displays an edge to her notes. It’s a nice fit for Cho’s piano accompaniment, whose sound is more akin to icicle than rays of sunlight. It’s their willingness to switch between comfort and clash that induce the better results on the album.
Garcia’s vocals are more successful when she employs a casual bounce, though it’s easy to admire he willingness to stretch out in whichever direction her muse takes her. While Cho is certainly conversant in a non-sequential dialog on piano, it’s moments when his point of view is more ordered that he shines. Like on “Everyday’s Own Song,” which midway through, he thrillingly lifts the song up, up, and away.
About half the tracks are originals, and while some of the “other” composer names (Pat Metheny, Sting, Jimmy Rowles, Norma Winstone) offer intriguing possibilities, ultimately it’s the songs with Garcia’s own name that receives accreditation that provide the album highlights.
Worth mentioning that a member of my household, whose taste in music I respect and trust, poked her head in while Bohemian was playing and mentioned a similarity to Joni Mitchell; figured it was worth mentioning, since I’ve been told that Joni Mitchell’s sound has acquired a fan or two.
Released on the Dash Hoffman Records label. No site or further information found. Possible it’s Garcia’s own label.