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Connie Evingson and the John Jorgenson Quintet: All the Cats Join In

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Throughout Connie Evingson’s recording career, spanning two decades and nine previous albums, she has tonally and stylistically maintained an uncanny similarity to Chris Connor. Now, suddenly, Evingson’s sound has grown plumper, richer and warmer. Such enticing changes are ideally suited to her new album’s concept of swinging dusty chestnuts (and several deftly chosen pop tunes) old-style.

The conceit is hardly new: A gaggle of female vocalists, stretching from Julie London to Diana Krall, has navigated that well-worn path. Still, Evingson keeps the proceedings unique by teaming with guitarist and clarinetist John Jorgenson, a fellow Minnesotan, and his pianoless quintet. Jorgenson’s résumé includes stints with Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and Bonnie Raitt. But his true passion, masterfully exercised here, is classic Gypsy-jazz guitar (he even portrayed Django Reinhardt in the 2004 Charlize Theron flick Head in the Clouds).

The vintage tunes-“Love Me or Leave Me,” “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” “The Lamp Is Low” and such-are winningly rendered. More intriguing, though, are Evingson and Jorgenson’s sepia-toned reinterpretations of more contemporary material, including two from Lennon and McCartney, “I’ll Follow the Sun” and “World Without Love,” Keren Ann’s bewitching “Jardin D’hiver” and the too-rarely recorded vocal version of Black Orpheus‘ “Manhã de Carnaval” (which, interestingly, Connor covered in 1966). There’s also a clever melding of the title tune with Lester Young and Jon Hendricks’ “Tickle Toe.” Hendricks himself steps in for brief accompaniment. At 93, his voice is the ghost of a raspy whisper, yet the boplicious sass still seeps through.

Listen to or download this album at iTunes.

Originally Published