On her second album, San Francisco denizen Cathi Walkup offers a play list of standards and her original material. Walkup continues favors up and medium tempo material almost completely eschewing the ballad form. Even "Angel Eyes" is given a medium tempo presentation, with some fine Tal Farlow like guitar by Brad Buethe and subtle flugelhorn by Dmitry Matheny. The combos are unusual in that there's a piano on just one cut, as Walkup uses the guitar and vibes as her basic support.
Although her mature contralto is limited in range, Walkup makes excellent use of the tools she has. Her renditions are filled with surprises, taking interesting liberties with the melodies. But she uses this technique in a disciplined manner keeping is just that, an effective interpretative technique rather than affectation. Hear her drop down at the end of the phrase rather than taking it up as one would expect on such tunes as "Nice Work If You Can Get It". Her style is enhanced by the support she gets from her musicians. On Nice Work it's Gerry Grosz's vibes giving just the right emphasis to Walkup's vocal musings. Walkup is at home with Vocalese using it to good effect on Thelonious Monk/Jon Hendricks' Bop opus "I Mean You" with "That" slipped in for "You" here. Of her originals, I found the title tune the most engaging. It's a buoyant, hopeful tune that moves right along with significant help from Harvey Robb's tenor.
Walkup is one of a group of very good female jazz singers who live and work in San Francisco. Five of them got together to cut an album called Quintessential which is also available through the web sites in the header to this review. As for this all Walkup affair, it demonstrates how good the results can be when there is a faultless match between singer, songs and sidemen. This album is truly entertaining and is highly recommended. Visit Cathi at her web site at www.cwalkup.com.
Track Listing: Little Suzie's Humming; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Angel Eyes; Living in a Daydream; More Than Poor Clay; A Kiss to Build a Dream on; Cheek to Cheek; I Mean That; Reflections; Waffles and Hen; Favela
Personnel: Cathi Walkup - Vocals; Vince DiCiccio - Piano; Gerry Grosz - Vibes/Flute; Robin Lewis -7 String Guitar; Dmitry Matheny - Flugelhorn; Harvey Robb - Saxophone; Brad Buethe - Guitar; John Wiitala, Bill Douglas, John Clark - Bass; Curt Moore - Drums; Ian Dogole - Egg Shaker