Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cat Conner - "Cat House"

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"Cat cruised through everything she sang with the soaring vocals, interpretive magic and enthusiastic musicality that are essential aspects of her vocal art... In sum, it was one of the most rich and varied, beautifully performed collection of songs I've heard in recent memory. Would that more jazz artists planned their sets this well."
- Don Heckman, Jazz critic

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not."
- Ernest Hemingway

“There's a direct sincerity in the way she tells the stories of these lyrics. Few can attain it, and you know it when you hear it. Conner is the understated real deal.”
— George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon

“Recording each one of my 13 lucky tunes has helped me to express my joy, let go of shame and understand my experiences in my life and love. As I am flirting with my golden years, I was utterly compelled to put together my big juicy vision 11 refuse to be haunted by ghosts of the past and I choose to be here in the moment and not live in fear... but in love!”
- Cat Conner, Jazz vocalist, “Cat House”

Cat Conner is one of our favorite Jazz vocalists. She has a new CD coming out today and I thought I’d bring it to your attention by sharing the following information that was developed by Holly Cooper at Mouthpiece Music.

Cat has her own website: www.catconner.com

Cat House [Cat Tales Records CT 1011] is now available on CD Baby and Amazon and will be available on iTunes on October 15, 2014.

“Cat House, the new CD by jazz vocalist Cat Conner, is a profoundly personal project that reflects the ups and downs of a life lived with empathy and a keen awareness of the heart's vicissitudes. Conner sings with a wide range of emotional expression and a depth of feeling that cuts right to the essence of the lyric. The songs on this disc are not the usual fare. They were chosen because each one tells a story that resonates with Conner's own experiences and outlook. From playful and suggestive to poignant and passionate, Conner opens the door to her Cot House and invites you in for an intimate tour.

Conner is accompanied on this project by her long-time friends and collaborators, a group of extraordinarily talented and experienced musicians. Conner says, "I've been working with this band in different venues and configurations for a long time. They know me well, both musically and personally. I'm sure no one else would be able to achieve the kind of intimacy I wanted to convey."

The core group is led by co-producer and masterful guitarist John Chiodini, who has worked with countless musical luminaries, from vocalists Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and Nancy Wilson to Paul McCartney and Louie Bellson. Chiodini, who also provided most of the arrangements, adroitly captures the breadth of Conner's affections, from her sheer joy in swinging standards like "You're Driving Me Crazy" and "What A Little Moonlight Can Do," to her sexy discernment in the soulful "Baltimore Oriole."

Chiodini's sensual and mysterious arrangement of "Sans Souci," the Sonny Burke composition with lyrics by Peggy Lee, is beautifully rendered by Gene ("Cip") Cipriano's haunting bass oboe line. Cipriano, a multi-reed instrumentalist whose music has been recorded on literally hundreds of albums and dozens of movie soundtracks, adds deep tonal colors and stunning turns on clarinet, tenor sax, bass oboe, English horn, and bass clarinet throughout this CD.

Tom Ranier, the widely recorded and highly regarded multi-instrumentalist, accompanies on piano. His graceful musicianship shines in his solos on "Giant Steps" and "Wishing On The Moon." Bass player Chuck Berghofer has worked with everyone from The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. His rich tone and powerful sense of swing are at the heart of each tune on this disc. Joe LaBarbera, the marvelous drummer perhaps best known for his recordings and live performances as part of the Bill Evans Trio, as well as quartets led by Chuck Mangione and Joe Farrell, completes the rhythm section.

Also included are notable contributions by renowned horn players Dick Nash on trombone ("You're Driving Me Crazy"), Ron Stout on trumpet ("Baltimore Oriole"), Stephanie O'Keefe on French horn ("Remind Me" and "Handsome Man"), and Bob Carr on bassoon, bass clarinet, and alto flute ("Handsome Man").

From the opening song, "Everything I Love/Everything I Desire," a Cole Porter tune to which Conner added her own lyrics and created a new song, to the final number on the CD, the deeply heartfelt "People Say (Song for Rob)," which Conner wrote for the son she was obliged to put up for adoption when she was quite young, Conner and the band take the listener on an expedition through the inner life of a woman who has experienced love, loss, delight, and sorrow, but who ultimately finds comfort in the felicity of musical expression that is both universal and singular.

Cat Conner is a Los Angeles-based jazz singer who got her start in her hometown of Toronto. She performed for many years with some of Canada's most well-known jazz musicians, including Peter Appleyard, Eugene Amaro & Don "DT" Thompson.

Conner moved to L.A. many years ago and put her vocal career aside for several years because of personal difficulties. However, music was never far from her heart, and she became very involved in the L.A. jazz scene. Conner was encouraged to return to performing by the legendary Gene Cipriano, who is widely regarded as the most recorded musician ever. She reved up her career again and began performing in jazz clubs up and down the California coast, accompanied by jazz greats like Pete Christlieb, Emil Richards, Gary Foster, Gary Smulyan and Don Menza.

Conner released her first CD, "Cat Tales," in 2012. The CD featured Cipriano and bassist Jim Hughart, with arrangements and accompaniment by the late George Mesterhazy, one of the finest East coast pianist/arrangers, known for his work with Shirley Horn and Rebecca Parris. "Cat Tales" received excellent reviews and was named "Best CD of 2012" by All About Jazz.”

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