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Cathy Rocco: You’re Gonna Hear From Me

Armed with a big, sturdy voice and buckets of assertive vocal confidence, Cathy Rocco suggests Nancy Wilson by way of Carmen McRae, with the occasional side trip into Lena Horne territory. But the Pittsburgh native’s professional history more closely resembles Rosemary Clooney’s. Like Clooney, who got her start alongside sister Betty, Rocco launched her career in tandem with sibling Connie. They toured the world together, and even scored a minor pop hit with “One Passionate Night.” Then Rocco went solo and, again like Rosie, built upon a solid pop foundation to blossom into a fine jazz singer, as demonstrated with striking dexterity throughout this debut album.

Can Aretha Franklin’s 1972 rendition of “Daydreaming” be topped? Perhaps not, but Rocco’s shimmering cover, punctuated with geysers of desire, gives the Franklin original a good run for the money. Likewise, Rocco moves beyond Stevie Wonder’s illustrious interpretation of “For Once in My Life,” imbuing it with a deeply passionate bluesiness that leverages her Wilson-ness to full advantage. On “On a Clear Day” Rocco embraces both the tune’s tenderness and its expansiveness by entering gently, rather like a silver-lined cloud, and escalating to thunderous heights, cleverly interpolating a line from Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now,” then nodding to Nash with a snippet from “Johnny One Note.” Her “Tea for Two” is petal-soft, and she swings “Autumn Leaves” without ever diminishing the lyric’s poignancy. As Rocco exits with her joyously vibrant treatment of the title track, we’re left hoping we will indeed be hearing plenty more from her.

Originally Published