What happens when performance art slams into vocal jazz? Two words: Katie Bull. Though it is easy to detect myriad influences in Bull, extending from the cool minimalism of Helen Merrill and Chet Baker to the boplicious ingenuity of Jon Hendricks and the bold vibrancy of Sheila Jordan (one of Bull’s earliest mentors), attempting to categorize the native New Yorker, and leader of the city’s inter-arts movement, is rather like trying to get a few dozen wriggling snakes to lay orderly and still. If you want pretty ballads prettily sung, look elsewhere. But if you’re in the mood for envelope-pushing experimentation on a grand scale, dive into the 17 tracks that comprise this dazzling voyage into a beyond so beyond that even as intrepid a pioneer as Bobby McFerrin is left miles behind.
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