KatieCat

 
 

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The San Diego Troubadour

Katie Cat

Blue Cat Diamonds

by Frank Kocher, The San Diego Troubadour

            San Diegan Katie Cat (nee Catinella) has been a performer for some time in various Bay Area and local jazz clubs, singing jazz and blues standards. Her debut disc, Blue Cat Diamonds, is a collaboration with local jazz composer/ performer/one man band John Cain. Cain co-produced with Cat and wrote two of the songs and the result is a delightful mixture of styles and sounds. Cain plays all the instruments, adds touches of orchestration, and frames Cat’s clear, expressive vocals in a way that makes the most of her singing talent. Cat, for her part, avoids the temptation to over-sing the vocals, giving just the right inflection to the songs. She knows other singers have done these songs before, like Karen Carpenter, Judy Collins, Dionne Warwick, and some of the best of the big band singers; she is content to interpret, rather than try to reinvent.

            The disc opens with a Cain original, “I Almost Feel Alive,” which has some great word play. This clever mid-tempo jazz tune sets the tone as shimmering keyboards and acoustic guitar figures float behind Cat’s easy harmonies and scat-singing. Then, a keyboard-guitar, jazzy version of “Both Sides Now,” the country-rock feel is sustained as Cat’s phrasing gives the song a jazz edge. “Me and the Blues” shows that she has done her homework in blues clubs; this one is rendered with just the right amount of smoky, world-weary attitude, a real contrast to the voice she uses in “Both Sides.” Cain’s piano and bass lines anchor the highlight next cut, “I Thought About You.” This song has Cat giving herself some good background harmony support, and with Cain’s playing the effect sounds like a record from a 1940s vocal combo. After a minor misfire on the country-pop “Snowbird,” with Cat having trouble with the low notes, “Like a Lover” and “I Won’t Last a Day Without You” are both exquisitely realized. “Lover” gives Cat a chance to stretch out on a jazzy shuffle, and “Day” is a bright reading of the familiar Carpenters song minus the heavy strings and overdone vibrato of the original.

            The selection of songs on the disc is inspired. Cain and Cat have mined the American Songbook, Broadway musicals, country-rock, and the 1960s pop charts to find the ten covers here and the songs are instantly memorable.

            “It Might As Well Be Spring,” a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical classic, is right in Cat’s wheelhouse and is another high point. Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love” is performed very well, and this version of the often-covered song measures up well to the 1967 Dusty Springfield original. Things conclude with another Cain original, “Back to Being Myself.” This tune has also a Bacharach-style flavor with catchy pop hooks, and Cat pulls it off with flair.

            Blue Cat Diamonds is a very enjoyable collection of good music by a singer with a great feel for the songs. She sounds right at home, and helps the listener feel the same way.

WAER 88.7 fm Syracuse, New York

Hi Katie,

I have been playing your CD in heavy rotation and am happy to say that I and listeners alike are enjoying it big-time. I am no easy sell as my tastes run mostly instrumental (Monk, Miles, Mingus, Trane, Rollins etc.) And even vocally I am a Carmen Mcrae, Nina Simone kinda guy, but your voice is terriffic. I love the natural sound and clarity to it. Although I dig the pop stuff (The look of Love) I thought you did a great job on the grittier material like "Black Coffee". That is the tune I have been hitting hard. Kudo's to John Cain on some nice blues riffs as well. One listener thought you were reminiscent of Jane Monheit, but I didn't think so ......I thought Julie London with a little more soul. Either way you are in nice company and I must say that the cover is VERY nice!!

I will stay in touch,
John

Coldstream, Scotland

Hey Katie,

Graham in Scotland here - found your video of 'Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered' on Youtube while researching 'Pal Joey'. How wonderful to see an intelligent, sensitive and superlative treatment of this great song. You have that rare ability - not merely to it the note and deliver all the nuances of meaning - but to deliver it with sincerity. It's a rare talent - and should bear fruit.

As an amateur guitarist I'm a great fan of Jobim, Jao Gilberto and Luiz Bonfa - nice to know you are keeping the flame alive. You deserve a far wider audience and the world does need a definitive album of classic standards. Are you familiar with Martin Taylor's great jazz guitar album 'Double Standards? - you and he would make a sweet pair.

Anyway - you are about 6,000 miles away - though I used to live in Del Mar a while back; I will tell my discerning friennds who still live there to try and catch your next performance.

All best wishes for continuing success