07/07/11 By Bruce Pulver
Kat Edmonson "Take to the Sky"
If Stan Getz were a vocalist, he would have sounded like Kat Edmonson. His light, breathy tone was in contrast to many of the heavy players of his day.
Ms. Edmonson is a modern day vocal version of Mr. Getz. She is a song whisperer. Like the horse whispers who train the wild stallions with a gentle, confident command, she captures the listener with deft voice control often slightly above audible yet always with utter clarity. This recording “Take To The Sky” is POWERFUL!
Ms. Edmonson sets the tone for the entire band. The supporting ensemble listens while bent on playing underneath each other, a rare find these days. The grooves throughout the recording are all in the relaxed pocket, like in a hammock saying “let’s stay here forever.”
The Kevin Lovejoy/Kat Edmonson collaborations offer a new lease on life for the jazz standards and contemporary covers selected for this project. How?
Gershwin’s “Summertime” has been done more times than the seasons have changed. This interpretation starts with a hypnotic piano waltz feel. Simple enough right? Then overlay a slow cymbal and rim clap in a two against three pattern. Hmm that’s interesting. A former music teacher taught this pattern by saying “not difficult, not difficult…" Try it. Listen to what it does to the eeriness of this classic composition. What about the plunger-muted trombone solo by Roy Westray which helps to increase the steamy tension until they take the tune home? If the first track does not set the hook for more, this writer can’t help.
“Just Like Heaven” is a remake of the Cure’s 1987 release “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me”. One of several Latin-feel interpretations, enter a bossa nova. Quite a supporting, tasteful Tenor Saxophone interlude by John Ellis follows. Remove the melodic instrumentation leaving a vocal and percussion segment which sets up the exit verse. Find someone you care about, to share this arm in arm, toe to toe. It will be exactly what the title says.
Moving on, Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” is hipped up with a simple half time piano vamp driven by a very loosely tensioned snare drum in double time feel beneath the recognizable lyrics. Mr. Lovejoy is then given freedom to improvise a bit over the same rhythm pattern.
“Charade”, the Henri Mancini Johnny Mercer collaboration, continues the intrigue and mystery by opening with jungle-like drum and bass introduction. The tempo is slow yet incorporates a relentless rhythm underneath. By now, the listening ear should be joined by the hips wanting to get into the game. Just try not to move. Oh what’s next? A bass clarinet solo by John Ellis. A what? Look it up, but only after you listen. Fantastic choices, Bravo!
Next is “Lovefool” the Cardigan’s pop song written by Peter Svensson and Nina Persson. The introduction brings back a vision of the “Roaring 1920’s,” as it moves into another slow Latin-percussive feel. Well placed, seductive pauses throughout provide time for one of those cat-like, full-body stretches before moving right back to the mambo groove. With no offense intended to the classic Saturday Night Live and Christopher Walken skit, this Cowbell adds perfectly to the fever. ‘Tis not a remedy for this song.
Following is “Angel Eyes” the 1953 composition by Matt Dennis and Earl Brent. The pulsing bass is stuck on a singular note, the piano, brushed drums and playful vocals flirt with this underlying tension. Release on the bridge then return to the bass. So much room is provided for Kevin Lovejoy’s piano notes to sashay through the form. Back to vocals and melody of course, but don’t be fooled, Eric Revis and his bass have complete control over this ultra-seductive arrangement.
“One Fine Day”, the 1963 Chiffons hit written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King, has a smoke-filled, bluesy feel from the start. Note this arrangement is performed without piano. Vocal, bass and drums, take the tune completely through. Ms. Edmonson turns the spotlight over to Ron Westray on Trombone who again instead of casting a shadow, plays as if he is standing in one, what a compliment to the song and the ensemble. It takes courage for a vocalist to go without the accompanying chord support from the piano. Very clean in a greasy sort of way.
On “(Just like) Starting Over”, Ms. Edmonson turns on the Billie Holiday influence, to the classic John Lennon tune. It moves so slowly, seemingly to almost back up. Sit and relax with a glass of wine in hand and an arm around someone you care about. Crackling fireplace wouldn’t hurt either.
The final selection on “Take To The Sky” is the 1955 song by Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf entitled, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”. Void of all instrumental support, here is Ms. Edmonson’s voice in its pure form. She takes a very well calculated risk. Just take it in and enjoy.
The selections on “Take To The Sky” are put together with careful thought. Each song compliments the one before and fits with the one after, like a delicious, multi-course meal. Captivated by the song styling of years gone by, Ms. Edmonson’s “Take To The Sky” is not a limit. This powerful recording can carry Ms. Edmonson as far as she wants to go, to the sky and beyond.
These are my comments. I welcome yours
Record Label: Convivium
Style: Jazz Vocals
Musicians: Kevin Lovejoy- piano, Eric Revis- bass, JJ Johnson- drums, Chris Lovejoy- percussion, John Ellis- tenor sax, bass clarinet, Ron Westray- trombone, euphonium, Donald Edwards- drums
Selections: Summertime, Just Like Heaven, Night and Day, Charade, Lovefool, Angel Eyes, Just One of Those Things, One Fine Day, (Just Like) Starting Over, Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
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