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Friday, May 29, 2009

Review: Kat Edmonson - Take To The Sky

Kat Edmonson - Take To The Sky
2009, Convivium Records

Austin, Texas-based Jazz siren Kat Edmonson makes an exciting debut with Take To The Sky, an album of 9 reinterpretations of jazz standards and pop hits. Released digitally earlier this year, the album is available on CD for the first time on June 2, 2009. Mixed by super Engineer Al Schmitt (19 Grammy’s), Edmonson has an extremely talented band to back her up. Drummer J.J. Johnson (John Mayer, Charlie Sexton); bassist Eric Revis (Branford Marsalis Quartet) and pianist Kevin Lovejoy (Spoon, John Mayer) are joined by guests John Ellis (Charlie Hunter) and Ron Westray (Wynton Marsalis) in providing a tight and original tapestry in support of Edmonson's stunning vocals. Engineer Schmitt, who's worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Sam Cooke, describes Edmonson as "the best new jazz singer I have heard in years".

Kat Edmonson is a once-in-a-generation voice. With a sound reminiscent of the great female jazz vocalists of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Edmonson is a treat for traditionalists, yet has just enough quirky pop sensibility to traverse the generations in between. Take To The Sky opens with Gershwin’s Summertime. The arrangement here is unusually dark, allowing Edmonson to be the only light you hear for the first two minutes of the song; she shines in a gritty and nuanced performance. The Cure’s Just Like Heaven gets a jazz/samba treatment here. I have to admit it took a few listens for me to really get this song, but it’s probably one of the finest covers I’ve heard. Edmonson is seraphic on Cole Porter’s Night And Day and turns in an incredible performance on Henry Mancini’s Charade.

Edmonson plays chameleon on the Cardigans’ Love Fool, sounding so much like Nina Persson that even fans of the band may be fooled. Edmonson projects a steely vulnerability on this song that is engaging. Angel Eyes (Brent/Dennis) is a popular selection that’s been covered by the likes of Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles and even Sting. Edmonson gives it all she’s got and comes up with a terrific reading of the song. My personal favorite song on the disc is Cole Porter’s Just One Of Those Things. If Porter were able, he would give Edmonson a standing ovation for a modern reading that never loses sight of the spirit of the original. Carole King’s One Fine Day becomes a slinky, taunting song much more fitting to the song’s intent than the bouncy Chiffons version. The album closes out with John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over. Edmonson has recreated the song as a contemplative love song; a true jazz standard. It’s so good you’ll wonder how you ever heard it differently.

Kat Edmonson has a passion for Jazz, and the sort of vocal talent that would rise to the top of most any set of contemporaries of any era since Jazz music was born. The ironically quirky nature of her sound also practically guarantees that if Edmonson ever crosses over to the Rock and Pop worlds she’ll have success as well. The pure creativity and vision on Take To The Sky is stunning; its one thing to be able to cover songs well without sounding like a karaoke performer, but it’s something else again to be able to recreate well known songs in a way that makes them your own without losing connection to the spirit of the original. Kat Edmonson is a vital talent, and Take To The Sky is a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Kat Edmonson at or You can purchase a copy of Take To The Sky at Waterloo Records or as a download on iTunes.

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