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New album from vocalist Cathy Segal-Garcia

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    Posted: 03 Dec 2019 at 8:18pm

CATHY SEGAL-GARCIA is one of the most prolific jazz vocal recording artists on the West Coast. A performer, songwriter, impresario, teacher, and jazz writer, she is a linchpin on the Los Angeles jazz scene, hosting performances and workshops by both local musicians and many jazz artists from around the country who are on tour in California. She's been singing professionally for over 40 years, releasing her first recording in 1992. Over the past 27 years, she's produced 12 CDs under her own name. She is now releasing her 13th project, STRAIGHT AHEAD TO THE U.K.
Each of Segal-Garcia's projects are conceptually different from one another. From duets with Ross Tompkins of Tonight Show fame, to an album of duets with 10 top pianists on the scene today, to an album backed by a jazz chamber group, and many other configurations, each album is a snapshot in time, reflecting Segal-Garcia's restless, creative spirit.
On STRAIGHT AHEAD TO THE U.K., Segal-Garcia takes one step back and two big steps forward by re-working an album she originally recorded in 2011 in England, but which had been sitting on the shelf ever since. The genesis of this project goes back to 1975 when she dated ANDY MACINTOSH, an alto sax player from England who came to the U.S. and performed with Maynard Ferguson, Louie Bellson and others. They eventually broke up, and MacIntosh moved back to England. They had lost touch for many years, but in 2011, MacIntosh found Segal-Garcia on Facebook, and their friendship was rekindled.
MacIntosh had remained a fan of Segal-Garcia's over the years and invited her to England to record with some of the best jazz players in the U.K., which included MacIntosh on alto, PAUL MORGAN on acoustic bass, LAURENCE COTTLE on electric bass, IAN THOMAS on drums, SIMON GARDNER on trumpet, and CLIFF HALL, JOHN PEARCE and ROY HILTON on piano. Segal-Garcia also sings a duet on one tune with NORMA WINSTONE, the British jazz vocalist/lyricist with an international following. Unfortunately, MacIntosh died from cancer in 2013, and the project was never released.
Segal-Garcia's friend and executive producer Dan Davilla heard her discussing the album on a radio interview and suggested it was perhaps time to revisit the recording. After listening to the album again after so many years, Segal-Garcia wanted to do something different with the music and brought the CD to JOHN LEFTWICH.
Leftwich is not only one of the most sought-after bass players in Southern California, he's also a producer, engineer, arranger, and composer, among his many accomplishments. "John is very creative and detailed oriented," says Segal-Garcia. "He's a superb musician and a top-notch engineer. I was thrilled that he was interested in working together on this album."
Segal-Garcia wanted to bring her vocals up-to-date with new ideas, so she decided to re-sing almost the entire album. With Segal-Garcia's new approach to the vocals, Leftwich thought it would be a good idea to also bring on board additional musicians to reflect the album's new attitude. He brought in some top L.A. players, including ISAMU McGREGOR on acoustic piano and Rhodes, CAREY FRANK on B3, KATISSE BUCKINGHAM on sax, and BRAD DUTZ on percussion, transforming the original, straight-ahead quartet sound to a rollicking, swinging fest of high-energy fun.
The songs on STRAIGHT AHEAD TO THE U.K. comprise an assemblage of standards, modern jazz compositions, and a couple of originals by Segal-Garcia. She opens with Dave Frishberg's "Wheelers and Dealers," which she says just seems appropriate for today's times. Buckingham on soprano sax and Frank on B3 are featured on Chick Corea's "Highwire." Segal-Garcia was always a big fan of John Abercrombie and wrote lyrics to "Hippityville" while she was still in college. She and Norma Winstone add their own special hipness to the tune.
Segal-Garcia and Leftwich wisely added the B3 and background vocals by BILI REDD and IRENE CATHAWAY, to "Sermonette," giving the Julian Adderley/Jon Hendricks tune the feel of a down-home revival meeting. Segal-Garcia wrote a new first chorus for the song. Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You" is a small gem that Segal-Garcia sings with deep but non-melodramatic feel. On "Something We May Never Know," a ballad by Shelby Flint, Segal-Garcia perfectly captures the song's sweet vulnerability.
Segal-Garcia recorded the Henry Mancini tune "Dreamsville" on her previous album of the same name. But Segal-Garcia never does the same thing the same way, and this version with keyboard and horns differs from her more vibey prior rendering. She likes "Gypsy In My Soul," (Clay Boland/ Moe Jaffe) because "it says who I am." The lyrics to the Howard Arlen/Yip Harburg "Last Night When We Were Young" have always appealed to Segal-Garcia's nostalgic side, and she conveys them with an emotional honesty that is a trademark of her style.
Segal-Garcia also penned the words and music to "Shake It Down," a fun blues tune inspired by a friend who loves to dance. "Recipe of Love" is a love song with delicious lyrics like, "You're sprinkled through with spices / you're dripping light with ices / You're warm out of the oven / Just right in time for lovin." Segal-Garcia wrote "Song 4 Sandy" for her niece when she was 8 years old. It's withstood the test of time, because Sandy is 40 years old now.
Cathy Segal-Garcia's recordings always have elements of fun and soulfulness with musical surprises that never fail to delight. STRAIGHT AHEAD TO THE U.K, in its re-sung, re-orchestrated, and re-engineered form, is a testament to her ever-evolving creativity.
STRAIGHT AHEAD TO THE U.K. is available in stores and online everywhere!
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