Kate McGarry - vocals
Paul Kreibich - drums
Karen Hammack - piano
Eric Von Essen - bass
I would like to tell you that I "discovered Kate McGarry by falling into such-and-such a cozy bar (on a freezing night, of course) where she was performing, generating a whole ton of warmth and musical involvement ..."But that isn't quite the truth: Ace drummer, Paul Kreibich, directed me to visit Lunaria's Santa Monica jazz-bar and restaurant on a balmy night where I would be able to hear what he felt was heaven-sent music for our label: Kate McGarry singing with her trio comprised of Karen Hammack (piano), Eric Von Essen (bass), and himself, Paul, on drums.I did so visit Lunaría's, and, though I planned to stay for an hour or so, I was captivated, enchanted, blown-away (etc, etc), and stayed long after closing time, while Kate and the trio did a whole extra set for me! What follows on this album is the result, I believe, of musical magic and bewitching magnetism. A point of interest about the recording: Of course, I placed both Kate's voice and Eric's bass in the stereo centre, but chose to put Karen's piano mainly on the left side and Paul's drums mainly on the right -truthfully it was an experiment, which I believe came off well ... Presenting ... Kate Mcgarry.
David Manley, Calífornia, 1992
Easy to Love is a most appropriate title for the recording debut of vocalist Kate McGarry. Right from the voice-bass intro on "My Heart Stood Still", you know that this is to be no run-of-the-mill program. An immediate reaction may be to notice the exceptional diction and enunciation and the distinctive phrasing that McGarry demonstrates. It's not surprising to learn that her greatest influences have been such unique stylists as Jon Hendricks, Betty Carter, and Mark Murphy, as well as the great lady of jazz vocals, Ella Fitzgerald. Born in Cape Cod, MA, McGarry earned a bachelors degree in Afro-American Music and jazz at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she also studied improvisation with the innovative saxophonist Archie Shepp. Singing was in her blood, and she began a professional career as soon as she graduated college, working local venues around Boston. Moving to California in 1988, she appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival, backed by an All-Star Band led by Hank Jones and Clark Terry. With a lot of encouragement from singer and vocal coach Sue Raney, McGarry gradually began showing up at some of the top Los Angeles nightspots. She also landed a singing spot in the Wesley Snipes, movie "Money Men", and can be heard on the soundtrack.
Kate chose some of her very favorite tunes for her first outing; as well as the musical accompanists she most enjoys working with. Describing pianist Karen Hammack, Kate terms her as "fresh, simple, with spontaneity and directness." You'll notice this right away on the first track, and again on "The Thrill is Gone". Perhaps Kate's respect for Karen comes out of the fact that Kate herself has a simple and direct approach to her craft, an amazingly clear and open voice with a range to tackle some of the most difficult changes. Of bassist Eric Von Essen, Kate notes how "he, never limits himself to playing any tune in a predictable way .... he sings every note. His playing is thoughtful and extremely focused. It was especially challenging to do "Body & Soul " with him. Something that's been done a million times like that has required special treatment, and I felt I could really explore the chord changes with someone like Eric."Paul Kreibich, one of the busier drummers in Los Angeles, was willing to get together with Kate, even though no gigs were in the offing. The result of that union comes across impeccably on the title track, and on "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" Paul had tuned his drums to the notes of the melody of that one, and, as Kate describes it, a kind of unison singing was the outcome. Kate's own favorite piece is "You're Nearer," because, as she says, It's very direct, no tricks. I felt my voice had no blocks to expression. I love to take a tune like this beyond its usual romance concept, giving it a wider interpretation." Similarly, on "Haunted Heart", another beautiful ballad, she feels the depth and dignity of the lyric. "Get It Straight" which is Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser" with words by Sally Swisher, has a certain concept for Kate. With some extra bars add, giving a lot more space, they take this jazz classic out of the usual blues pattems into some daring explorations. Kate wanted to make special mention of the recording of this album, and feels that because of the way producer David Manley understood what each of them was trying to do musically, the whole session proved to be a very rewarding experience. Live to 2-track recordings of this sort are a challenge to anyone, and these four talented artists prove that they are more than capable of handling such demands.
Frankie Nemko, Jazz Times