5

Cat Conner: Cat House

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Cat Conner: Cat House
On Cat House, the follow-up to her superb debut album, Cat Tales, California-based vocalist Cat Conner shows again that she has the astuteness and chops to leave many other contemporary jazz vocalists floundering in her wake and gasping for air. This time around, Conner has chosen a baker's dozen of what she calls her "lucky tunes," and she gives each one the sort of eloquent reading that should entice the perceptive listener to revisit them time and again.

While on ballads there's an occasional hint of Jeri Southern in Conner's sultry voice and delivery, there's no point in making comparisons, as Conner's personality and intonation are distinctly her own. She has also mastered Rule No. 1 in producing a captivating vocal album: that is, to surround the headliner with the finest musicians in the neighborhood. On Cat House they include pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Joe La Barbera and (on various numbers) guitarist (and arranger) John Chiodini, woodwind specialist Gene Cipriano, trumpeter Ron Stout, trombonist Dick Nash, French hornist Stephanie O'Keefe and handyman Bob Carr (bassoon, bass clarinet, alto flute).

The vibrant opener, Cole Porter's "Everything I Love," is deftly blended with a more spontaneous lyric, "Everything I Desire," a semi-scat riff by Chiodini on which Conner ad libs freely. The mood is more pensive on Billy Strayhorn's "Pretty Girl," transposed by Conner into "Handsome Man," which precedes the nebulous "Sans Souci" (lyric by Peggy Lee) and John Coltrane's jazz classic "Giant Steps" (lyric by Meredith d'Ambrosio and Ron Hurston). Michael Wayne Deese' "Throw Me Away" and Jerome Kern / Dorothy Fields' "Remind Me" are seldom-heard gems given new luster by Conner who also brings out the best in Hoagy Carmichael's incisive "Baltimore Oriole," Alan Broadbent's rhythmic "Heart's Desire" (lyric by Dave Frishberg) and D'Ambrosio's even-tempered "Wishing on the Moon." If the lyrics aren't always delovely, in Conner's able hands they are at least coherent.

After a measured introductory verse, the pace quickens on the standard "You're Driving Me Crazy" and the Billie Holiday favorite, "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," which are sandwiched around Sammy Cahn / Jimmy van Heusen's suggestive "Come on Strong." While the finale, "People Say (Song for Rob)," is some steps removed from memorable, it is clearly sung from the heart, as Conner expresses the abiding love she has for her son, whom she unwillingly gave up for adoption before reuniting with him many years later. Quite a poignant finish to a second splendid album by the virtuosic Cat Conner.

Track Listing

Everything I Love/Everything I Desire; Handsome Man (Pretty Girl); Sans Souci; Giant Steps; Throw Me Away; Remind Me; Baltimore Oriole; Heart’s Desire; Wishing on the Moon; You’re Driving Me Crazy; Come on Strong; What a Little Moonlight Can Do; People Say.

Personnel

Cat Conner: vocals, shaker; John Chiodini: guitar; Gene Cipriano: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, bass oboe; Tom Rainer: piano; Chuck Berghofer: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums; Ron Stout: trumpet; Dick Nash: trombone; Stephanie O’Keef: French horn; Bob Carr: bassoon, bass clarinet, alto flute.

Album information

Title: Cat House | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Cat Tales Records

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Hug!
Hug!
Matt Wilson Quartet
Read Touch & Go
Touch & Go
Susan Tobocman
Read The Ilkley Suite
The Ilkley Suite
Jamil Sheriff
Read Moving Through Worlds
Moving Through Worlds
Fiona Joy Hawkins
Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read Sleepy Town
Sleepy Town
Jamie Pregnell
Read Momento
Momento
Dave Milligan
Read Peace
Peace
Spirit Fingers

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.