52

Kate McGarry: Girl Talk

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Kate McGarry: Girl Talk There are many reasons to like vocalist Kate McGarry's Girl Talk.

There's the lively set list, first of all—a mix of all-too-well-known and too-little-known standards, with a fine Brazilian number thrown in. There's the uniform excellence of the band: witness Gary Versace's idiomatic organ accompaniment on "Girl Talk"; guitarist Keith Ganz—sensitive throughout, but especially on the forlorn folk tune "Looking Back"; the stately Brazilian duet "O Cantador," with Kurt Elling; and bassist Reuben Rogers' nice feature on "I Just Found Out About Love."

McGarry herself approaches every mood and tempo with ease and assurance. Her bluesy reading of the title tune, for example, with its hopelessly sexist lyric ("the weaker sex, the speaker sex"), coos and flirts, but winks at every turn in the direction of Betty Carter's feminist deconstruction from Finally (Roulette, 1969).

There's all that, and there's McGarry's subtle and important contribution to the long co-evolution of jazz and rock 'n' roll. On the one hand, there are jazz players playing rock 'n' roll tunes, like pianist Herbie Hancock's The New Standard (Verve, 1996). On the other, there are players who incorporate rock 'n' roll textures, techniques, preferences and norms into jazz performance. In recent years, the best example may be bassist Todd Sickafoose, who marvelously described his musical approach in an AAJ interview as "[Duke Ellington's] 'Black and Tan Fantasy,' as played by John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney]."

The first of these tendencies is, in part, a way of dealing with the depletion of the repertoire: how many times can you squeeze meaning out of "All The Things You Are"? Why not do some Nirvana numbers instead? McGarry has played this side of the fence: she garnered notice years back with a plaintive version of The Cars' "Just What I Needed." The second tendency is more complex, and has to do with the necessary regeneration and renewal of musical materials in jazz. And it's here that McGarry's contribution is most vivid on this record. The repertoire and the instrumentation fit comfortably in the jazz canon. But McGarry's singing—and, to a lesser degree, the acoustic guitar—speak to an audience as familiar with Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones as with Betty Carter. Of course, one need only compare the singing and compositions of Mitchell and Jones to the work of a more traditional folk singer like Joan Baez to recognize that they long ago merged jazz sensibilities into their folk music.

McGarry, accordingly, infuses the jazz repertoire with this same jazz-folk sensibility—nowhere more evidently than on the masterful version of "The Man I Love." In some ways, McGarry follows the lead of Carter (again), whose glacially paced interpretation on Look What I Got! (Verve, 1988) is similarly bleak. At the same time, and particularly in her soaring vocal coda, McGarry plumbs the Mitchell-Jones vocal groove. In so doing, she manages to convey both whispery fragility and tremendous power; a remarkable performance.


Track Listing: We Kiss In A Shadow; Girl Talk; I Just Found Out About Love; The Man I Love; O Cantador; This Heart of Mine; I Know That You Know; Looking Back; Charade; It's A Wonderful World.

Personnel: Kate McGarry: vocals; Keith Ganz: guitar; Gary Versace: organ; Reuben Rogers: bass; Clarence Penn: drums and percussion; Kurt Elling: vocals (5).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Palmetto Records | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Alpha Nebula Expanded: The Monster Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Alpha Nebula Expanded: The Monster Peace
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "Days Are Not Days" CD/LP/Track Review Days Are Not Days
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Timeless Again" CD/LP/Track Review Timeless Again
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 11, 2016
Read "It's A Man's World" CD/LP/Track Review It's A Man's World
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 12, 2016
Read "Trio Miami" CD/LP/Track Review Trio Miami
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!