Kate McGarry/Keith Ganz/Gary Versace: The Subject Tonight Is Love (Binxtown)

Review of album from vocalist accompanied by guitarist Keith Ganz and keyboardist Gary Versace

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Cover of Kate McGarry album The Subject Tonight Is Love

Though they’ve intersected on various projects over the years, vocalist Kate McGarry, her husband, guitarist Keith Ganz, and keyboardist Gary Versace at long last make their trio debut. Literally and figuratively, it is a labor of love. The title comes from a 14th-century poem from Persian mystic Hafiz, read by McGarry on the introductory track. Across the balance of the album, the seamless, exquisitely crafted interplay of the three principals evinces mutual, intertwined respect so powerful that it surely represents love, personal and professional, of the highest order.

As always, McGarry, a singer of unique interpretive dynamism, her cool delivery underscored by immense emotional warmth, shines forth, while Ganz and Versace prove sublime masters of subtlety. There’s romantic love found: a diaphanous “Secret Love”; brightly contented “What a Difference a Day Made,” propelled by Ganz’s lustrous “Mr. Sparkle”; and misty “My Funny Valentine.” And love lost: a breezily blasé “Gone With the Wind”; gorgeously ruminative “Indian Summer”; and McGarry’s scalding, vengeful “Losing Strategy #4.”

Gentle reminders to love thy neighbor drive Benny Golson and Kenny Dorham’s “Fair Weather.” Self-honesty, ideally igniting self-love, is examined within an adaptation of Egberto Gismonti’s “Palhaço,” while ancestral love (or lack thereof) ignites McGarry’s haunting family-tree dissection “Climb Down,” with the traditional Irish folk song “Whiskey You’re the Devil,” featuring drummer Obed Calvaire, added as an intriguing coda. As a fitting endnote to this superbly multihued journey of the heart, the trio, alongside guest trumpeter Ron Miles, shapes a brief, soothingly joyous “All You Need Is Love.”

Preview, buy or download songs from the album The Subject Tonight is Love by Kate McGarry/Keith Ganz/Gary Versace on iTunes.

Read Christopher Loudon’s review of Genevieve and Ferdinand album by Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz.