Connie Evingson: Some Cats Know
Given that Connie Evingson first album, Fever, was a tribute to Peggy Lee, her latest with another famous Lee song, as the title. Some Cats Know, falls into the same category. Not so. While there is a nod or two to Ms Lee, this CD is an exhilarating, entertaining one hour plus exposition of Ms Evingson's considerable vocal skills accentuated by the presence of several eminent veteran jazz players. Their talents, nor those of the very good local musicians on this session, aren't wasted.
Individual attention has been given to the presentation and arrangement of each of the songs on this varied play list. "More than You Know" is a tour de force with Sanford Moore's funky, slinky piano providing most of the backstopping. The delivery conjures up a small, smoke-filled New York lounge with a sexy chantuese backed by a rhythm section with guitar added. The tenor saxophone of Dave Karr and the legendary Chicago horn man Von Freeman, engage in a musical conversation on a very up beat "It's Alright With Me" with Moore entering as Evingson segues into "I Love Paris." Karr's haunting flute is the musical passport to a plaintive vocal version of "Close Your Eyes." Toots Thielemans comes on board with his harmonica as he and Evingson romp through what has become a jazz standard, his "Bluesette." This tune also features Reuben Ristrom's Barry Galbraith-like guitar strumming behind Evingson with Jimmy Hamilton's straightforward no-nonsense piano getting a lot of play.
Doc Severinsen's muted-trumpet joins Evingson on "I've Got the World on a String" and is prominent on a sultry, lush version of "`Round Midnight". Rather than the usual swing Bing Crosby-type arrangement of "Accentuate the Positive", Evingson's gives it a Ray Charles treatment, a bit funky with an off-center beat. She is ably assisted by Al Grey's muted, growling trombone, Sanford Moore's saloon piano and Dave Karr's New Orleans' clarinet. This performance is one of the highlights on an album where picking a highlight is downright difficult. "All the Things You Are" reveals the confidence these performers have in their individuality coupled with their ease in coalescing with those they share the stage with. Evingson does the lyrics in a medium tempo, but Peterson's piano comping is a bit faster than Evingson's time, while Irv Williams' is doing his own thing on tenor, and yet it works. Evingson has penned vocalese lyrics to the Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie bop anthem, "Anthropology". The resulting interpretation meets the high standards set by such purveyors of the genre as Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson.
It is clear from the support she gets from the musicians on this session that Evingson is becoming one of those very select vocalists who are known as musicians' singers, i.e., singers musicians like to work with. There is not a bad cut on this album. Some Cats Know is happily recommended.
Tracks:Some Cats Know; Medley: I Love Paris/It's Alright with Me; Close Your Eyes; More than You Know; Bluesette; I Wanna Be Loved; I've Got the World on a String; Medley: Yesterday/ Yesterdays; Accentuate the Positive; All the Things You Are; `Round Midnight; I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair ;Anthropology
Personnel: Connie Evingson - Vocals; Ray Brown, Terry Burns, Gary Raynor, Jay Young, Gordy Johnson - Bass; Sanford Moore, Jimmy Hamilton, Jeanne Arland Peterson - Piano; Reuben Ristram - Guitar; Phil Hey, Joe Pulice - Drums; Doc Severinsen, Gene Adams -Trumpets; Al Grey - Trombone; Von Freeman, Irv Williams - Tenor Saxophone; Dave Karr - Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet; Toots Thielemans - Harmonica; Jack McDuff -Hammond - B#3 organ
Record Label: Minnehaha Music