Cathy Segal-Garcia

SOCIAL ANTHEMS, VOLUME 1

origin 82830

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Troy Dostert, All About Jazz

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Proving there is still some life in the spirit of '60s activism—and even in the decades beyond it—vocalist Cathy Segal-Garcia gives us six tracks which meld jazz, folk and pop idioms in a way which sounds both classic and contemporary. Drawing on the talents of a fine band and a couple of intriguing guest vocalists, Segal-Garcia delivers these tunes with confidence and a winsome disposition.

Aside from the self-penned "What Are We Gonna Do," a zesty folk-based tune, Segal-Garcia relies on some time-tested warhorses, with Stephen Stills' Vietnam-era "For What It's Worth" starting things off with urgency and requisite moral fervor—even if the marchers chanting at the end of the track might be a bit unnecessary in aiming for protest-caliber credibility. There is also an effective rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Save the Children," this time assisted by Mon David, whose earnest spoken and sung parts complement Segal-Garcia's poignant lines quite effectively. And Chet Powers' "Get Together," another staple of '60s counterculture, is given a slow- tempo reading paired with Steve Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home"; on the latter, the band picks up the pace convincingly, with an assertive solo from guitarist Anthony Wilson to give the track some additional verve.

In addition to the pieces of older vintage, more recent material is also represented; Peter Gabriel's "Down to Earth" is given a buoyant treatment in keeping with the original's appearance on the 2008 Wall-E film soundtrack. And, while it is more of a somber lament for a dying relationship than a "social" anthem, Billy Joel's "And So it Goes" provides another opportunity for Segal-Garcia's dusky alto to move alongside another guest vocalist, Paul Jost, whose heartfelt recitation of several stanzas, and wistful harmonica, lend a compelling emotional weight to the piece.

Segal-Garcia gets some fine arrangements, courtesy of Wilson and pianist Josh Nelson, whose sensitive accompaniment leavens these pieces quite nicely. While Wilson adopts a number of different registers here, including a delightful Bill Frisell-esque Americana turn on "And So It Goes," so also do bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Lorca Hart, both of whose contributions are highlighted by the strong production values of the recording. Livingston's crisp lines come through especially vividly on "Down to Earth," while his arco shines resonantly on "Come Together"; Hart's seamless transition from understated restraint to a more overt rhythmic pulse enlivens the latter half of "For What It's Worth."

Segal-Garcia shows herself to be a creative interpreter of an important strain of American music; her ability to pull some less-obvious choices onto the recording and give them her distinctive flavor makes the effort worthwhile.








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