Cathy DeWitt is a multifaceted musician and entrepreneur based in Gainesville, Florida, with a diverse background of singing, instrumental performance, band leading, teaching, composing, writing, and administration in a variety of genres ranging from folk to classical to jazz. She's been around, yet remains a true "girl wonder" whom I met in Philadelphia when she was attending a conference on "music and medicine (She works to bring music to patients in hospitals and other medical settings). Her broad range of interests and commitments, which quickly became apparent in our conversation, is visible on her website (see below.)
I have a special interest in female jazz vocalists, so when DeWitt told me she was a jazz singer, and recorded several CDs, I asked her to send me one to review. The one I received, Love Notes is an interesting "straight ahead" mix of standards and a beautiful DeWitt original, "For a God in Blue." The CD represents live recordings made between 1987 and 1998 at the Thomas Center in Gainesville. DeWitt possesses a fine, well-honed soprano voice with a smooth and effortless upper register that only a few singers such as Rita Gamborini can boast.
The interpretations are dreamy and understated, reminiscent of Doris Day, whose musical ability has been underestimated, in my opinion. But DeWitt is capable of jazz and blues musical subtleties such as ornamentation and variations which Day studiously avoided. I was particularly taken by her beautiful Bach-like scat duet improvisation with pianist Frank Sullivan in a chorus of a lesser known standard, "Alice in Wonderland." I found the piano work on all the tunes to be exceptionally good. DeWitt's vocal quality varies from awkward on some numbers to outstanding on most. This fluctuation might be expected in material drawn from live concerts.
This is a very listenable CD that will appeal to those who love standards, and especially those with a fondness for straight-ahead renditions with a classic "all American girl" style similar to swing era singers like Helen Forrest rather than the more emotive, intimate vocalists like Billy Holiday.
Track Listing: I Just Found Out About Love; It Might as Well Be Spring; Alice in Wonderland; When I Fall in Love; Up Jumped Spring; For a God in Blue; You?d Be So Nice to Come Home To; Everybody?s Somebody?s Child; There Will Never be Another You; You Taught my Heart to Sing.
Personnel: Featured in various piano/vocal duets and small ensembles: Frank Sullivan, Rob Bargad, Ed Kraut, Cathy DeWitt, Kurt Lang: piano; Doug Reifler, Scott Walton, Walter Booker, Dave Ottenberg: bass; Billy Bowker, Rob Pellick, Rob Rothschild, Richard Burns: drums; Mark Fox, Carl Weismantel: guitar; Roland Burns: alto sax; Dave Sloane: tenor sax.
Jazz is for me the most important cultural revolution of the 20th century and I'm proud to
play this kind of music. For me, jazz is more than a kind of music, it's the best way of playing
any musical material.