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Katie Bull: Conversations with the Jokers

Trevor MacLaren By

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With the recent resurgence in female vocal jazz, a lot of competition has arisen. Katie Bull may not yet have the strongest of vocal chops, but she certainly makes up for that in the original and eclectic use of varying styles that piece together her debut, Conversations with the Jokers. Opening up with the Schertzinger/Mercer track 'I Remember You', Bull is haunted by the phrasing of post-Chick Webb Ella Fitzgerald, before taking on the groove of bossa-nova. But it's when she steps outside the traditional jazz forms that she shines.



The song 'See Through You' is a great use of experimental vocal work. Using her voice and phrasing as a free instrument alongside Joe Fonda's bass exploits one the most inventive ideas that have come from the new wave of jazz vocalists. Her unique use of scat, moans, groans and other sounds resembles that of folk-punk priestess Ani DiFranco. Chopping left, right and center, Bull nourishes an innovative style. Even though this makes for an exciting step forward with vocal jazz, she does not push the envelope as far anywhere else on this disc. For the remainder she relies on the old standbys that most other vocalists stick with. Yet Bull does not insist on one specific sound or vocal style, which helps to make up for it.



She changes styles as the tracks change, from torch to cool to bop to Latin—which makes Conversation with the Jokers a varied debut. But the listener cannot help but feel that Bull is still finding her voice. Once she comes into her own, Bull will be a force to reckoned with in vocal jazz.


Track Listing: I Remeber You; My Little Boat; See Through You; Moonlight Becomes You; You and the Night and the Music; What is this Thing Called Love?; Wave; Now's the Time; I'm Glad there is You; You're Everything; Like Someone in Love.

Personnel: Katie Bull: vocals; Lou Grassi: percussion; Michael Jefferey Stevens: piano; Joe Fonda: bass.

Title: Conversations with the Jokers | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Corn Hill Indie


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