Kate McGarry has always defied easy classification. She's a jazz singer, and a folk singer too; she could also be filed under mainstream pop, but then, what's all that esoteric Brazilian music doing in her repertoire?
The answer is simple: McGarry is her own genre, applying her clear and beautiful voice to whatever material speaks to her soul. This is obvious on Genevieve and Ferdinand, where she's equally passionate and expressive whether interpreting the American Songbook, James Taylor, Toninho Horta, or her own pensive original; her signature eloquence is especially intimate here, when her only accompaniment is her husband, the exquisite guitarist Keith Ganz. Nearly breathing in unison, they have created an eclectic and deeply melodic set that embraces Jerome Kern and Todd Rundgren as well as Paul Simon and Irving Berlin, while finding new colors in familiar lyrics.
Jazz aficionados will savor the haunting re-harmonization of "Let's Face the Music and Dance," while Taylor followers will delight in how his "Line 'Em Up" is taken out for a swing. And anyone who enjoys poetic contemplation will be drawn to McGarry's "Ten Little Indians," a powerful memoir about her nine siblings and their parents' deaths within a year of each other. Surprisingly, it's neither maudlin nor depressing, but full of love and redemption; chances are it will move anyone who's experienced that particular rite of passage, no matter what their favorite genre may be. Moreover, this tune is emblematic of McGarry's unique musicality: a contrivance-free zone in which honesty and simplicity are blended into the highest technical art.
For those wondering about the CD's title, "Genevieve" is McGarry's middle name, while Ganz reminds her of the gentle "Ferdinand," the famous bull who preferred flowers to fighting. Certainly his strong and subtle playing is the perfect companion to her sound and sensibility, especially since this CD is recorded with such clarity and warmth. The bottom line is that Genevieve and Ferdinand is heartfelt, intelligent, and unforgettable.
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.
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