Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 13, No.3, 2014

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Tommy Emmanuel
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Denzal Sinclaire
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Sarah MK
Julie Lamontagne
Vincent Gagnon
Arioli & Officer
Jean Félix Mailloux
Vijay Iyer
Lionel Loueke
Tia Fuller
Cecile McLorin Salvant
2010 Montreal Guitar Show (Sylvan Luc)
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101 (featuring David Binney)
Montreal Jazz Festival 2010







Piano Keyboard



Nick Catalano is a TV writer/producer and Professor of Literature and Music at Pace University. He reviews books and music for several journals and is the author of Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, New York Nights: Performing, Producing and Writing in Gotham and A New Yorker at Sea. Nick’s reviews are available at


Featured artist: CAROL FREDETTE


Love songs interpreted by female jazz and cabaret singers (Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Horn) have usually been about rejection, loneliness and frequent desperation; they invariably elicit despondency and even tears. Few chanteuses have ever recorded whole albums celebrating nonchalance or victory in their love affairs; but the latest CD from Carol Fredette dubbed No Sad Songs for Me (Soundbrush Records) reflects the neoteric confidence of women enjoying hard earned sexual independence and long sought egalitarian relationships.

For decades a fixture on the New York jazz scene, Carol Fredette paid early dues singing with the big bands of Sal Salvador, Larry Elgart and Neal Hefti. After years of international touring (Regine’s and Dinazhade in Paris, Veinte-un in Rio, Vine Street in L.A., Milestones in San Francisco) she re-settled in Gotham performing in seminal jazz clubs including Birdland, The Blue Note, Fat Tuesday’s, and Café Carlyle with stalwart American jazzers such as Hank Jones, Steve Kuhn, Al Cohn, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ron Carter, Lee Konitz, Fred Hersh and Dave Frishberg as well as Brazilian stars Claudio Roditi, Romero Lubambo and Helio Alves. Despite rave reviews (“She’s as good as they come” – Stan Getz) she has recorded sparingly preferring artsy outings over covered titles. No Sad Songs for Me is the apotheosis of the hard-swinging, hip phrasing, and novel repertoire that has made Fredette a favourite vocalist of the cult purists in the Big Apple.

For much of the album, Fredette dug deep into the Cole Porter songbook. In “I Am in Love,” which was written in 1953 for the musical Can-Can, she opted for a samba arrangement; the tune reflects the Porter genius for polysyllabic rhyming and lyrical prances. These features are energetically punctuated by producer/arranger/bassist David Finck’s instrumental voicings. Michael Davis’s trombone introduces the song as well as the cast of accompanying musicians that will be with us for the whole session. The rhythm section of Helio Alves on piano, Bob Mann on guitar, Kevin Winard on percussion led by Finck’s incomparable bass lines sets a groove for Fredette’s seamless phrasing that delights as well as presages what lies ahead. At Fredette’s urging, Finck penned a tune for the set which resulted in the title for the album and pictogram for the theme. An unerring sense of swing has long been Fredette’s trademark and Finck’s tune “No Sad Songs for Me” sets her in the rhythmic groove that always captivates her devotees. David Mann’s sax solo provides colourful transportation for the tune which resolves in relaxed rubato fashion.

The rubato freedom is a tactful cradle for the recitativo performance of some intriguing esoterica from film writer/ songwriter Bob Merrill -- “It’s Good to Be Alive.” Fredette’s narrated conveyance of the lyric illustrates her dedication to telling the story of the song in the best way possible.

Quite possibly, Irving Berlin was totally unacquainted with the pulsating tradition of latin salsa but the selection of this dance form for his tune “The Best Thing for You” is another creative coup as is the oratorical rendering of “To Love and Be Loved” – a tune by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen for the 1960 film Some Came Running. In selecting these titles Fredette has drawn upon the sense of scholarship which has characterized the research-laden quality of her past recordings and is one of the reasons her CD output is intermittent.

Antonio Carlos Jobim is one of the most recorded composers of the past half-century. It is difficult to find a tune which has not been covered frequently but here again Fredette has scored impressively as she sings “Chovendo na Roseira” (Double Rainbow). The melody contains complex chromatic sequences with time signature variations. Fredette employs a whispered recitative approach which when accompanied by David Mann’s languid flute lines delivers Jobim’s strains euphoniously and Gene Lees’s lyrics poetically. Her excellent rendering of the Portuguese vernacular takes us back to some of her previous recordings where this achievement has flourished.

When our songstress utters “every kiss, every hug seems to act just like a drug” in the spoken intro to Al Dubin and Harry Warren’s standard “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” the story-telling reveals the coquettish complaint of a woman with titillated emotions but determined reserve -- another instance of independence and self-assertion. Written in 1932 for the film 42nd Street, the lyric original portrayed the girl as a victim who had no choice in the matter. Bob Martin’s guitar echoes the playful nature of the tale.

“Havin’ Myself a Time,” another 1930s entry from the pens of Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in one of her more impish moods. This pearl has some imposing solos from the band with particular rhythmic stirrings from pianist Andy Ezrin. The assembly of musicians that David Finck brought to this session is not one containing household names but it is itself a testament to the endless parade of outstanding jazz talent that he has introduced in his huge recording opuses through the years. The employment of three different pianists for one CD outing in order to facilitate the genre differences in the music performed is another important indication of the careful sculpting that went into No Sad Songs for Me.

This is a time in music recording when the treasure trove of jazz, cabaret standards and Tin Pan Alley triumphs counts little in the juggernaut of popular commercial music that holds sway with many listeners. Years back, when I was playing in bands and later producing many concerts all over New York that featured these aforementioned genres, I spent some time with the legendary jazz trombonist Kai Winding who uttered a simple comment about art music. “The valid things always remain” he said and thus it is ever so.

Although the thousands of talented jazz and cabaret performers who arrive in Gotham every year from increasingly large jazz programming at the nation’s universities receive little notice in the national media, their efforts give the city’s clubs an intensity that future historians will savour.

By Nick Catalano:
Astrophysics for Mortals
Amsterdam (book review)
Vermeer Nation
The Case for Da Vinci's Demons


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