All About Jazz colleague Dan Bilawsky indulges no hyperbole when he describes vocalist Kate McGarry or Genevieve and Ferdinand: Live: "There is no greater beacon of sincerity, honesty and emotional purity than Kate McGarry...Genevieve & Ferdinand doesn't contain bold proclamations or daring musical acts, but it's filled with some of the most genuine music that anybody is likely to ever hear." High praise indeed, but Kate McGarry, along with Gretchen Parlato, Sara Gazarek, Becca Stevens, Rebecca Martin and Tierney Sutton make up the most significant jazz vocal movement since Cassandra Wilson released Blue Light 'Til Dawn (Blue Note) in 1993.
Not content to rest on her laurels, nor be content with any given format, McGarry releases her first duet recital, recorded with husband guitarist Keith Ganz. Her repertoire is as varied and fresh as her previous recordings, with the added dimension here of intimacy...the intimacy of this duet recording between soul mates, recorded live a small venue. McGarry and Ganz are miked closely, providing their performance with an immediacy and power that eliminates the possibility of overplaying. The balance is stunning.
McGarry/Ganz introduce their concert with a perfect diptych of Paul Simon's "American Tune" and McGarry's own "Ten Little Indians" each complementing the other with organic American Themes of love and adventure. McGarry's superb instrument flatters the fine songwriting in the songs. These are songs for McGarry/Ganz and their audience to get to know one another. They set the stage, but that stage is one of surprise and delight. McGarry waxes French on the medley "Aquelas Coisas Todas/third Wind/Aqui O." Her wordless vocals are razor precise, allowing the singer to show off her considerable chops. "I Can't Help Loving That Man" is taken at a bluesy stroll over which McGarry flexes her command of the standards genre. "Let's Face The Music And Dance" is cut from the same cloth. McGarry enjoys the vocal additions of Theo Bleckmann on a cleverly rendered cover of Todd Rungren's "Pretending to Care." The Ganz original "Mr. Long Gone" provides the same ambiance as the opening tunes, something fresh- scrubbed and pure; McGarry's wordless vocals again providing color and contour.
And color and contour are what illuminate this recording. McGarry has enjoyed much success in the last number of years, continuing to delve beyond the standard repertoire into inventive parts unknown. Genevieve and Ferdinand: Live points in a positive direction. Let's follow it..
American Tune; Ten Little Indians; Aquelas Coisas Todas/Third Wind/Aqui O; Can’t Help Loving That Man; Plea For a Good Night’s Rest; Line ‘Em Up; Mr. Long Gones; Let’s Face the Music and Dance; Pretending to Care; Smile; Beneath a Crozet Trestle Bridge.
Kate McGarry, voice; Keith Ganz, guitar; Theo Bleckmann, Gian Slater, vocals, track 9.