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Kitty Margolis and Life on the Road Less Traveled

By Published: December 1, 2001
A Kitty Margolis concert, and thus presumably any live album based thereon, does not simply replicate her studio work. 'There is more soloing by the instrumentalists, more scatting by me, and less under six minute songs,' explains the singer. A live set is also an opportunity to dig deeper into tunes. 'I'm one of those singers that if I would re-record all the songs I've recorded, they would come out completely differently,' observes Margolis. 'The tunes have evolved a lot more than they had when you recorded them.' Her live set list tends to evolve as well. 'There are tunes that you outgrow,' she admits. On the other hand, some songs seem inexhaustible. 'I've been singing 'My Favorite Things' for like a 100 years, and every time I sing it, I get more out of it. 'All the Things You Are,' I could sing a million times and not get tired.'

Margolis strongly believes that live music provides a vital communal experience. 'There is something about having all these people brought together from different backgrounds sitting together in a room listening to the same music. When it is all working, everybody's ego barriers melt, and people forget they're separate from each other. There is no more powerful way to realize that than through music. When I'm performing there are no boundaries between me and the guys in the band. We are all one. I forget who I am. I sure forget what I look like. It's just an amazing phenomenon. That's what you fall in love with. That feeling of unity.'

If during that creative process Kitty Margolis takes a wrong step, then so be it. 'That's part of jazz,' she explains, 'Learning how to navigate what are mistakes into something that is part of the path. That has to do with staying completely in the moment. Who wants perfect? Every now and then it's wonderful to hear something perfect, but I'd rather hear a person stretching out. Experimentation. Risk taking.'

'I feel like I have a responsibility to kind of guard this art form and steward it forward,' explains Kitty Margolis. She recognizes that different jazz singers will arrive at different conclusions about how to do just that. However, for Margolis, they all must meet one essential requirement. 'Authenticity. I think that's the single thing that makes music good or bad for me. Is it a pose or is it authentic?'

And so there is the answer. In the future, if you are searching for the perfect label to describe a genuinely original jazz musician, remember, save yourself time and just let the musician label herself.

Let's try it again. So what word do we use to describe Kitty Margolis?


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