Some Cats Know

by: Connie Evingson

Just prior to Some Cats Know, Connie Evingson released Fever, her tribute album to Peggy Lee. A glance at the title of this new release might lead one to conclude that this is another album paying homage to Lee. Not at all. While there is a nod or two to the inestimable Peggy Lee, like the title tune, this album is an exhilarating, entertaining exposition of Evingson's considerable vocal skills accentuated by the presence of great veteran jazz players. Their talents, and those of the several local musicians on this session, are not wasted. A good deal of attention has been given to the arrangement of each of the songs on this varied play list. "More Than You Know" is a tour de force with Sanford Moore's funky, low-down piano providing most of the backstopping on this bluesy rendition of this tune from the 1929 musical Great Day. The tenor saxophones of Dave Karr and the legendary Chicago horn man Von Freeman engage in a musical conversation on a very upbeat "It's Alright With Me," with Sanford Moore moving in as Evingson segues into "I Love Paris." Karr's haunting flute is the musical passport to a plaintive vocal version of "Close Your Eyes." Toots Thielemans gets on board with his harmonica as he and Evingson romp through his jazz standard, "Bluesette." This tune also features Reuben Ristrom's Barry Galbraith-like guitar strumming behind Evingson, with Jimmy Hamilton's straightforward, no-nonsense piano getting a lot of play on this tune Doc Severinsen's muted trumpet joins Evingson on "I've Got the World on a String" and is also prominent on a sultry, lush version of "'Round Midnight." "More Than You Know" conjures a small, smoke-filled New York lounge with a chantuese backed by a rhythm section, with guitar. Rather than the usual swing arrangement for "Accentuate the Positive," Evingson gives it a Ray Charles treatment -- funky with an off-center beat. She is ably assisted by Al Grey's growling trombone, Sanford Moore's saloon piano, and Dave Karr's New Orleans' clarinet. This performance is one of the highlights of an album where picking a highlight is difficult. "All the Things You Are" reveals the supreme confidence these performers have in their individuality coupled with their ease in coalescing with those they share the stage with. Evingson does the lyrics in a midtempo, but Jeanne Arland Peterson's piano is comping faster than Evingson's time while Irv Williams is doing his own thing on tenor, and it works, as does every cut on the album, which is highly recommended. ~ Dave Nathan

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