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Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz: Genevieve and Ferdinand

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Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz

Genevieve and FerdinandThis recording Genevieve and Ferdinand is one of the most intimate works of art that has ever been put on disc in a long, long time. It is not simply that there are only two protagonists: the lovely and most charming Kate McGarry, accompanied by her husband and guitarist, Keith Ganz. It has much more to do with the ravishingly beautiful voice of Ms. McGarry and the repertoire that she has chosen—something that suits her so perfectly, and which she sings pitch perfect in her own inimitable manner—in a voice laid bare, the only thing left to do is weep; sometimes for joy and at other times for the elemental sadness that her songs bring. Ms. McGarry’s voice and the manner in which she manipulates it gives her vocalastics an almost nude effect. So much emotion is put through the music that a myriad feelings of things so private that the listener feels as if he or she were an interloper who stumbled upon a secret tryst between the artist and her innermost soul. And when Ms. McGarry sings in such a manner its no holds barred. It feels as if she is to music what Sylvia Plath is to poetry, although Ms. McGarry is far from a fatalist, who might sit on a stone bench.

There is something else that feels so beautiful about this recording and that is the manner in which the voice and the guitar complement each other. It appears that something secret is passing between Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz. While this is constant, something changes every now and then and that might be brought upon by the fact that the two are husband and wife. Here however, it feels as if Ms. McGarry and Mr. Ganz are paramours. As the music rolls off her tongue almost too deliciously there is a sense that a sly look has been exchanged between the two; or a quick and soft touch between guitarist and vocalist. Ms. McGarry sometimes sounds all too bashful; she can almost be seen to blush and in that hot flash she utters words in secret code about love. This is not always a word-filled line; it is a wordless vocal as seen in “Can’t Help Loving That Man”. But something can go dramatically wrong at any time. And then you have a chart like “Pretending to Care”. The pain is almost too much to bear. Fortunately it is all in the make-believe world, because the listener may have come to love this couple so much that nothing should go wrong; absolutely nothing.

As vocal albums go, Genevieve and Ferdinand is truly special. The intimacy and the spare nature of the music comes across as a recording that is made by a solo pianist; and not just any pianist, but someone such as Fred Hersch. Ironically Kate McGarry is also one of the most preferred vocalists for Mr. Hersch. Her outstanding turn in Mr. Hersch’s epic recording, Leaves of Grass. However, Ms. McGarry’s album stands alone as a one of the finest vocal albums recorded in 2013; that is including Rebecca Martin’s superb album Twain. It is hoped that music such as this will get its true reception in a market that does not seem as discerning as it is cracked up to be.

Track List: American Tune; Ten Little Indians; Aquelas Coisas Todas/Third Wind/Aqui O; Can’t Help Loving That Man; Plea for a Good Night’s Rest; Line ’em Up; Mr. Long Gones; Let’s Face The Music And Dance; Pretending To Care; Smile; Beneath A Crozet Trestle Bridge.

Personnel: Kate McGarry: voice; Keith Ganz: guitar; Theo Bleckmann: voice (9); Gian Slater: voice (9)

Label: Sunnyside Records | Release date: January 2014

Website: katemcgarry.com | Buy music on: amazon

About Kate McGarry

With 5 critically acclaimed CDs and a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal CD Kate McGarry has become recognized as a jazz artist who brings authenticity and vitality to every song regardless of genre. The Wall St. Journal calls her, “Austere and elegant,” New York Times pronounced her music, “astute and sensitive”. She currently performs in the most venerated jazz clubs and festivals throughout the US and abroad. As an educator she has served on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music and is currently on the faculty of New England Conservatory. Downbeat Magazine has cited McGarry as ‘Rising Star’ vocalist for the past 5 years. She has been interviewed on All Things Considered, Jazz Set w/DeeDee Bridgwater, Piano Jazz w/Marion McPartland.

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