Singer Cat Conner is highly enamored of the romanticisms embodied in so much of the American Songbook, tunes singing back to her as she distills them in what are often semi-orchestral atmospheres—not that there's an orchestra anywhere in sight, small or large, but instead a number of the best jazz cats in the business (John Chiodini, Tom Ranier, Joe LaBarbera, and etc.), gentz who really know how to fatten the sound while remaining decorous, delicate, and sensuous. Credit also the recording work of Paul Tavenner, who captured everything to perfection, collapsing the entire ambience down into a small little CD from whence it re-emerges full-blown. A singer can't be just good and attract the caliber of side talent filling Cat House to overflowing (again: with superlatively rendered spare arrangements, chiefly by Chiodini, never crowding Conner), she has to be very very good, and Ms. Conner certainly is that.
This is old-timey art, a showcase of what our fathers and grandfathers were listening to and digging the hell out of, even if it required brushing back a tear from the manly eye every now and again (which our mothers and grandmothers were more than appreciative of). Ah, but, boys, wait 'til you hear her version of Remind Me, VERY much in line with Toni Tenille's killer work, and you'll soon find yourself falling behind pop and gramps, misty eyed and wistful for the girl-next-door you woo'ed and lost long ago. And remember when George Harrison covered Hoagy's Baltimore Oriole? Yeah, it was good though way overblown, grandiose (and I do like grandiloquence!), but Conner brings the song back into the vibrant fresh-faced intimacy it was penned for.
The unusually erotic Come on Strong, a much neglected Cahn / van Heusen song, is covered, with Cat in the liner notes commenting that "[s]ometimes a dame just has to ask for what she wants". Absolutely!, and maybe I can have her talk with an old girlfriend or two. Without any hint of brass whatsoever, Conner manages to mix down-home with classy wanton resulting in a seductively honest and forthright paean dripping with smiles and winks. Then What a Little Moonlight Can Do jumps into a bop boogie with Chiodini playing like a lightfingered Duke Robillard scatting across the frets, Cat encanting with élan and sweet vigor. She wrote one cut on Cat House and then co-wrote a track with Chiodini, but the rest is a menu of sparkling classics from an era when class and elegance held sway. In efforts like this one, it still does.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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