All the Cats Join In
Connie Evingson’s Gypsy-jazz-love affair is still going strong. The eclectic jazz chanteuse has explored the swinging Hot Club de France genre of Django Reinhardt on two previous albums. Her most recent recording captures Evingson with one of the music’s premier bands, the John Jorgenson Quintet. In fact, guitarist/clarinetist Jorgenson portrayed Reinhardt himself in the 2004 film Head in the Clouds. Together they offer a balanced blend of masterful instrumentation and pristinely precise vocal phrasing.
Well-paced and infused with equal parts sophistication and whimsy, All the Cats Join In is Evingson’s 10th release for the Minnehaha imprint. Her sultry voice goads its inherent cadence. The disc’s repertoire includes chestnuts such as Walter Donaldson’s “You’re Driving Me Crazy” and Duke Ellington’s “Solitude,” as well as less era-expected fare such as Lennon and McCartney’s “I’ll Follow the Sun” and “World Without Love.” Evingson even offers a beguiling Gypsy-jazz interpretation of Luiz Bonfá’s “Black Orpheus,” which brims with dark and seductive delight.
The singer showcases on-point scatting with her read of Tiny Bradshaw’s buoyant “Jersey Bounce.” And she delivers Keren Ann’s “Jardin D’hiver” in near-flawless French. The title track is paired with Lester Young’s “Tickle Toe,” the latter of which features Jon Hendricks’ growly vocalese contributions. While they’re all gems, Evingson shines brightest on the stripped-down “Moonlight.” Her voice stretches wide and long across a horizon of delicately strummed acoustic guitar. — Lissette Corsa