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Connie Evingson: Gypsy in My Soul

C. Michael Bailey By

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2005 should be declared the Year of the Female Jazz Vocalist. In this first quarter we have seen new releases from Cheryl Bentyne, Kate McGarry, Patti Wicks, and Dena DeRose. All are notable artists whose new recordings are equally notable. Add to this Connie Evingson's beautifully provocative Gypsy in My Soul, and one can only be encouraged about the state of art in jazz vocals.

Based in the Twin Cities, Evingson chooses much more exotic climes for the theme of her new recording, prewar Paris, when the European jazz world was ruled by a Parisian fiddle player and a Sinti gypsy guitarist. The music is acoustic guitar driven (as was all of Le Hot Club du France output). This lends a sophisticated Old World charm to the recording—a languid mood historically before World War II. Evingson is no stranger to thematic releases, as evidence by her last two, Let it Be Jazz and The Secret of Christmas.

Evingson performs with three crack Grappelli/Reinhardt-inspired groups. Pearl Django is a string quartet that supports the singer on the bulk of the recording, including the sumptuous "Nature Boy and Django's own "Nuages. Sung in French with Susannah McCorkle lyrics, "Nuages is melancholic in the most romantic of ways, thoughtfully paced and delivered. Neil Andersson's lead guitar dances above Greg Rudy's foundation rhythm guitar with Michael Gray's violin sewing up the song. "Lover Come Back to Me is performed at a near-breakneck pace without missing a step. Susan Pascal lends light as a feather vibes to "Lullaby of the Leaves. Her solo is light and immediate, using little sustain, miked very close, bringing the amorphous sound out front.

The Clearwater Hot Club is another string quartet that deftly cajoles Evingson through a period "I'm Confessin' and with added mandolin and accordion a lovely "The Lonely One. Sam Miltich's and Mark Kreitzer's guitars bring a tight take on the Hot Club concept propelling the music. "The Lonely One is superb with Patrick Harrison's accordion and Mark Kreitzer's mandolin.

The Parisota Hot Club adds a clarinet to the string quartet format, deepening the Old World mood of the music. "Gypsy in my Soul contains a thrilling guitar/clarinet unison head. This group also accompanies Evingson through a flamingly fine rendition of Juan Tizol's "Caravan and Cole Porter's "Night and Day. Evingson, for her part, performs as brilliantly as we would hope. Her voice is evenly distributed throughout her range and her delivery is refreshingly straightforward and sexy. Her perfomances carry the aroma of red wine and filterless cigarettes, sensual, slightly decadent, and thoroughly wonderful.

Track Listing: Nature Boy; I'm Confession'; Gypsy in My Soul; Nuages; Lover Come Back to Me; Lullaby of the Leaves; Until; April in Paris; Caravan; The Lonely One; Night and Day; You and the Night and the Music; Django's Premonition (Anouman); I Cover the Waterfront; S'Wonderful/Dizzy Atmosphere.

Personnel: Connie Evingson- vocals; Don Chouinard, Patrick Harrison- accordion; Darryl Boudreaux- percussion; Susan Pascal- vibraphone; Greg Williamson- drums; Clearwater Hot Club: Sam Miltich- guitar; Mark Kreitzer- guitar, mandolin; Matthew Miltich- bass; Raphael Fraisse- violin; Parisota Hot Club: Robb Henry, Bob Ekstrand- guitar; Keith Boyles- bass; Tony Baluff- clarinet; Pearl Django: Neil Anderson, Greg Ruby- guitar; Rick Leppanen- bass; Michael Gray- violin.

Title: Gypsy in My Soul | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Minnehaha Music

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