Heart To Heart
Label: Dash Hoffman Records
You Are Too Beautiful, More Than You Know/I'm Always Chasing Rainbows, Daydream, My Heart Stood Still, Melancholy Serenade, Exactly Like You, Skylark, My Old Flame, Someone To Watch Over Me, Goodnight Sweetheart, That's All.
If you live in Southern California and have a taste for jazz vocalists, undoubtedly you’re familiar with the work of Cathy Segal-Garcia. She’s known for her distinctive way with songs, her associations with the best musicians that L.A. has to offer and for her impact as a vocal teacher. Since moving here in 1975, Cathy has contributed much to vocal jazz in L.A. The music on this album is, in some ways, a culmination of all of her efforts. As much as anything you’re likely to hear by Cathy, this album serves as her musical DNA. Nearly a life-long musician (she sang with her saxophonist father’s band from age twelve, studied flute and composition in her native Boston at Berklee), Cathy has arrived at an artistic plateau. You won’t hear her shout or go for the predictable closing crescendo in her singing. If she chooses to scat, it will arise out of the song, unforced, and used judiciously the way a poker player throws down a hole card. At this point in her life, Cathy’s work is all about subtley choosing the right notes and rendering them in a warm manner. This is how she creates the quality of intimacy that pervades her singing. It’s a restrained passion that burns steadily but not wildly. In her early days in L.A., Cathy waitressed at Donte’s, the late lamented North Hollywood jazz club. Pianist Ross Tomkins was a regular there and he attended Cathy’s first couple of bandstand forays there. Tompkins offered encouragement and the two stayed in touch over the years. Their musical collaboration doesn’t predate this recording by much, so what you’re hearing on the disc is essentially a la prima. “What I like about Ross,” offers Cathy, “is his great ability to come up with creative arrangements of these tunes, right on the spot. And of course, he’s such a great player. He’s a singer’s dream.” With good reason, because during his tenure as pianist in the Tonight Show Band, Ross played for every singer who sat on Johnny Carson’s couch. Still, aside from his weekly gig with Jack Sheldon, Ross doesn’t play with singers as much as he does small jazz groups or big bands. “Cathy and Jack do similar material,” Ross notes. ”The Great American Songbook: Kern, Porter, the Gershwins, Rogers and Hart and of course, Johnny Mercer. Cathy’s got a list of a couple hundred songs and I appreciate that. You can do more things with a singer that way. The more the better. I’ve been impressed with Cathy’s determination to do the very best she can over the years.” Another great pianist, Tom Garvin, once gave Cathy a sage piece of advice: pay homage to the melody. Cathy does just that, early on in a given performance, then she feels free to invent and embellish. “Musically speaking,” she says, “Ross and I are kind of sensitive to a certain quality in each other that allows each of us to explore subtleties in a song. I can do it if the intstrumentalist is tuned to that. That’s why I love to sing the melody if I’m working with a great player, like Ross.” Listen to the way he carpets her path with chords on the bridge to “Skylark,” then traverses the emotional meadow in his own solo. Cathy has long known that one of a singer’s jobs is to find worthy material. That’s why her programs and recordings don’t contain “throwaway” songs. Each one counts. The Gershwins, Rogers and Hart, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer and Billy Strayhorn are fittingly rendered here. The surprises are Jackie Gleason’s neglected but deeply emotional “Melancholy Serenade” and “Goodnight Sweetheart” by the Spaniels, a doo-wop group. The latter is represented by two versions. The first is a spontaneous tape made by Cathy and her sisters in 1982, doing what the Segal Sisters were known for back in Boston. The second is Cathy’s tribute to her sister Margy, whose recent passing was an emotional blow to her friends and family. Cathy’s emotion on the tune is palpable and speaks for itself. “Music is very powerful,” states Cathy Segal-Garcia. “The messages in these great songs can touch a listener and can change his or her life. I try to be part of that process.” “…the reality of my sisters and I singing together was a matter of fact. My dad was a sax player and teacher, and my mom was a singer and supporter of our artistic gifts. I don’t think I fully realized the overwhelming value of our creation until Margy died in October of 1997. I always knew what we had was special, but now I remember everything about it. I’m very grateful for our upbringing and the value we had. Even though I know her spirit lives on, I miss her so much. This recording I’d like to dedicate to my family and our beautiful Margy. Music connected us to each other and led us through the world. For Margy, music was a glass of clear cool water in a hot dry desert. This is for all of us…we’re still connected.”
Album uploaded by Cathy Segal-Garcia