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Kate McGarry: Girl Talk (2012)

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Kate McGarry: Girl Talk How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Someone should tell vocalists today—at least the ones we see on those TV talent hunts—that singing doesn't have to be some exercise in screaming self-annihilation, that beauty and style is more about composure and command. You could tell them, or you can hip them to Girl Talk, by Kate McGarry.

McGarry, a jazz vocalist, has covered various pop and folk songs by the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sting, Björk and Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
b.1943
vocalist
on prior recordings. Her style defies categorization. Or, perhaps she has been saying that jazz has become 21st century folk music.

Like her previous disc, If Less Is More... Nothing is Everything (Palmetto, 2008), she employs a first-rate jazz band that includes her guitarist/husband Keith Ganz
Keith Ganz
Keith Ganz
b.1972
guitar
, keyboardist Gary Versace
Gary Versace
Gary Versace

organ, Hammond B3
, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Clarence Penn
Clarence Penn
Clarence Penn
b.1968
drums
. The quartet, along with Matt Balitsaris of Palmetto Records, ensures that the sound is top rate.

On Girl Talk she forgoes pop music for a more traditional, popular jazz sound. Like her role models Betty Carter
Betty Carter
Betty Carter
1930 - 1998
vocalist
, Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan
b.1928
vocalist
and Carmen McRae
Carmen McRae
Carmen McRae
1920 - 1994
vocalist
, you can call it jazz or pop, to them it's just singing. Like her vocal mentors, she delivers with an assured sprezzatura—that effortless style that sounds innate but can only be delivered after intense study and practice.

The title track, a bit of patronizing misogyny, gets turned on its sarcastic head, much in the manner that fellow singer Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
b.1926
vocalist
covered the song in 1966. McGarry's bluesy, loping delivery is balanced by the throwback sounds of Versace's organ and Ganz's guitar. The guitarist is featured throughout, and plays a duet with McGarry on the ballad "Looking Back," doubling on acoustic and electric guitars.

What's to love here is the casual nature of this remarkable ensemble. McGarry makes the complex seem unpretentious. She can move between speaking and singing through a song without a perceptible difference between the two, as she does on "I Just Found Out About Love." Maybe that's why her voice fits hand-in-hand with singer/orator Kurt Elling on the Brazilian "O Contador." She endears herself with the flirty track "I Know That You Know," a scat-filled "It's a Wonderful World," and the bachelor (or bachelorette) pad tango, "Charade."

Kate McGarry certainly has that "thing" that Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
wrote a song about, and her music does mean a thing.


Track Listing: We Kiss in a Shadow; Girl Talk; I Just Found Out About Love; The Man I Love; O Cantador; This Heart of Mine; I Know That You Know; Looking Back; Charade; It’s a Wonderful World.

Personnel: Kate McGarry: vocal; Keith Ganz: guitars; Gary Versace: piano, organ; Reuban Rogers: bass; Clarence Penn: drums, percussion; Kurt Elling: vocal (5).

Record Label: Palmetto Records

Style: Vocal


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