Were it not for her decision to remain in Minnesota, Connie Evingson would surely be a better-known jazz vocalist. Over the course of her previous releases she's proven herself to be a prepossessing singer capable of getting to the marrow of a lyric without pretense or posturing. And she's remarkably good at putting together programs, be it a salute to The Beatles, a trip through the work of Norman Gimbel, a tribute to Peggy Lee, or a collection of well-organized assorted gems.
On All The Cats Join In, Evingson returns to gypsy jazz, a style of music that she investigated on the appropriately-titled Gypsy In My Soul (Minnehana Music, 2004) and Stockholm Sweetnin' (Minnehana Music, 2006). Here, she works with The John Jorgenson Quintet, exploring material penned by everybody from Duke Ellington ("Solitude") to Keren Ann ("Jardin D'hiver"), and Luiz Bonfa ("Black Orpheus") to John Williams ("Moonlight"). There's a carefree quality to much of this music, as Evingson and company gently stroll along in cheery fashion. That state of comfort often belies the seriousness of her art, as it's easy to just get pleasantly lost in a lighthearted take on a classic ("Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea") or a playful vocalese jaunt with guest vocalist Jon Hendricks ("All The Cats Join In/Tickle Toe"), but there's no doubting her skills. Evingson shines brightly whether the band is chugging along or leaving the gypsy caravan behind and traveling to Brazil.
Jorgenson, an incredibly capable guitarist, keeps his chops in reserve here, adding only what's necessary. He and violinist Jason Anick contribute needed obbligato work and concise and effective solos, capturing and enhancing the mood of each song without stealing too much focus. The other three-fifths of the quintetdrummer Rick Reed, rhythm guitarist Doug Martin, and bassist Simon Plantingdeliver pleasingly understated support.
While the mention of gypsy jazz often conjures thoughts of impressive Django-esque feats, Evingson and Jorgenson take a more mannered approach to the genre on All The Cats Join In. They put on a great show without being needlessly showy.
Love Me Or Leave Me; I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me; Dream A Little Dream; Jardin D'hiver; All The Cats Join In/Tickle Toe; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; Black Orpheus; I'll Follow The Sun; Solitude; Jersey Bounce; You're Driving Me Crazy; Moonlight; World Without Love; The Lamp Is Low.
Connie Evingson: vocals; John Jorgenson: guitar, clarinet, vocals; Doug Martin: rhythm guitar; Simon Planting: bass; Rick Reed: drums, percussion; Jason Anick: violin.
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