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Kate McGarry/Keith Ganz/Gary Versace: The Subject Tonight Is Love

Dan Bilawsky By

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The ancient Greeks spoke of love's many forms, codifying and distilling the essence of every one in detailed thought and language. Each of those documented variants rightly differs from the others, yet the keen mind can certainly discern that all of them basically stem from the same roots: connectivity and understanding. In something of a musical parallel, this outing presents as an exploration, cataloguing, and summation of love in many states. While different aspects of the topic at hand are examined within each track, all are in agreement in their adoption of its foundational pillars.

The trio of vocalist Kate McGarry, guitarist Keith Ganz, and multi-instrumentalist Gary Versace is ideally suited for these investigations of the heart, telescoping each song's core value(s) while also expanding on their meaning. In doing so, this tightknit group proves that it's as perceptive as they come. McGarry may serve as the primary focal point, but this album remains a statement of artistic fellowship between all three of these artists.

The title track—a recitation of a concise work from 14th century Persian Poet Hafiz—serves as a brief scene-setter of a prologue, but the first proper number comes in the form of "Secret Love." This reflection on clandestine bonding proves to be one of the standout tracks on the album, evolving into a soul-searching statement on finding one's inner passion(s). Opening with hush-hush ideals before easing into a buoyant zone featuring a joyous guitar solo from Ganz, it hits every mark its meant to while shining a light on a few that were heretofore unseen. McGarry follows that up by calling to her Irish ancestors on "Climb Down," a slow, spare, and bluesy evocation that moves through humid air. That five-and-a-half minute work stands firmly on its own, yet it resonates on a deeper level when it segues into an Irish folk song—"Whiskey You're The Devil"—with guest Obed Calvaire's martial snare drum calling in the distance.

Those first three numbers make it clear that these simpatico spirits don't deem any single source sufficient for uncovering or expressing love's magic and mysteries; the material that follows, likewise, speaks to varied origins and vantage points. "Gone With The Wind" touches on elegiac sentiments while countering them with suggestions of sunny swing and a light-and-loose departure, Egberto Gismonti's "Playing Palhaço" presents new lyrics from Jo Lawry and deals with love's reality apart from its appearance, "My Funny Valentine" is given a glistening facelift through Ganz's reharmonization, and McGarry's "Losing Strategy # 4," benefitting from Versace's coloristic contributions, investigates the topic of retribution and damaged love in the most heartbreaking of tones.

This album is full of emotional ups and downs, serving as a true reflection of life's rollercoaster, but the ever optimistic epilogue—a brief stroll through "All You Need Is Love" graced by Ron Miles' horn—closes things out with a welcome dose of optimism. That exit is a lesson to the masses in these troubled times about how to move forward, and this album is a gift to us all from a trio with something real and true to express.

Track Listing: Prologue: The Subject Tonight Is Love; Secret Love; Climb Down/Whiskey You're The Devil; Gone With The Wind; Fair Weather; Playing Palhaço; Losing Strategy #4; My Funny Valentine; Mr. Sparkle/What A Difference A Day Makes; She Always Will/The River; Indian Summer; Epilogue: All You Need Is Love.

Personnel: Kate McGarry: vocals, piano (7); Keith Ganz: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, acoustic bass guitar; Gary Versace: piano, keyboard, organ, accordion; Obed Calvaire: drums (3); Ron Miles: trumpet (12).

Title: The Subject Tonight Is Love | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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Date Detail Price
Apr27Sat
8:00 pm
Kurt Elling, Fred Hersch, Kate McGarry
Baldwin Auditorium
Durham, NC

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