Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Madeline Eastman: The Speed of Life

Sometimes you have to hit me in the head with a brick before I notice the obvious, which is probably why it never dawned on me that San Francisco’s Mad-Kat records was euphemistically named for cofounders Madeline Eastman and Kitty Margolis. In honor of the label’s 15th anniversary, both are back on store shelves with typically inspired discs.

At a time when all sorts of aging rockers are diving into the Great American Songbook, trying (with generally little luck or skill) to embrace some inner Ella or Eckstine, Eastman is taking the opposite tack infusing “Alone Together,” “Do I Hear a Waltz?,” “There’s a Small Hotel” and the nine other standards that fill The Speed of Life with an appealing jazz-rock sensibility. Don’t get me wrong; Eastman and her sidemen-pianist Randy Porter, bassist Rufus Reid, drummer Akira Tana, trumpeter Mike Olmos and percussionist Michael Spiro-boast estimable jazz chops. Still, it’s evident that Eastman has as keen an appreciation for, say, Billie Holiday (whom she echoes ever so subtly on “We Kiss in a Shadow”) as for gutsy rock era frontwomen like Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks and softer singer-songwriters like Carole King and Phoebe Snow.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published