with many of Baltimore’s best-known jazz musicians. The CD, on the Indy label Jazzway, goes to radio in the United States and will be available for sale in May 2014.
While most of her band members now figure prominently on the national jazz scene, the singer handpicked them over years of performances in the Mid-Atlantic region and watched in delight as the cream rose to the top.
The new album, her first as a leader, includes heavyweight reed players Todd Marcus
While the disc represents the first jazz album featuring Matheny-Katz as a leader, the jazz maven has clocked untold hours at the microphone since her early years as a folksinger in New York coffee houses. The 1990s saw her leap onto the blues scene with the Park House Jam in Annapolis, Maryland, and she entered the millennium as an award-winning jazz singer and became a popular venue host: she and husband Howard Katz present the prestigious Jazzway 6004 series.
, J.D. Walter and the late Ronnie Wells helped guide Matheny-Katz’ artistic development and prepare her to step masterfully into her role as producer of Somewhere in Paradise. She has built a substantial set for the sophisticated ear, dressing beloved jazz tunes in new and noteworthy arrangements.
The CD begins with an ingenious makeover of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” which she updates with references to Facebook and iPhone. Matheny-Katz’s blues sensibilities come through on Track # 2 with Warren Wolf’s arrangement of “Whisper Not” by Benny Golson. Next up is “All Blues,” arranged by Wolf with an Afro-Cuban rhythm that takes Matheny-Katz to a new level, while showcasing Wolf’s vibraphone playing and Stafford’s fiery trumpet. Wolf also arranged Kenny Dorham’s “Fair Weather,” on Track #4.
On the next track, Matheny-Katz draws from her Lady Day repertoire with the 1939 standard, “Comes Love,” one of her favorite Billie Holiday tunes. Track #6 is an intricate makeover of Jerome Kern and Dorothy Field’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” arranged by acclaimed bass clarinetist Todd Marcus.
Monk compositions play a major role in Matheny-Katz’s repertoire. Track #7 features her take on “Still We Dream (Ugly Beauty),” inspired by Carmen McCrae’s 1988 rendition. On the next rack she reworks the much-loved “You Must Believe in Spring” as a bossa nova ballad. “You Taught My Heart to Sing” on Track #9 is another Marcus arrangement, as is the final track, a swinging arrangement of “Look for the Silver Lining” by Buddy Desylva, Jerome Kern and Jerry J. Novak. Matheny-Katz’s ebullient version was inspired by Chet Baker’s performance of the tune.
FILM AND CONCERTS
The name Marianne Matheny-Katz is well known to Baltimore jazz fans who have heard her sing in countless venues in the city and surrounding states for more than a decade. But her creative drive is far reaching. Concurrent with the release of her new album, she is involved in producing a documentary film about the history of Baltimore jazz from the days of Billie Holiday and Pennsylvania Avenue to the present. Filmmakers just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for “Tell Me More - and Then Some,” slated for completion in fall of 2015.
Meanwhile, the songstress continues to bring her own sophisticated sounds to the resurging Baltimore jazz scene. She’ll begin her CD release concerts with a performance on Saturday, May 17 at 8:00 p.m. at Jazzway 6004, named by DownBeat Magazine as one of the top three House Concert venues in the United States. She’ll perform at Blues Alley in the nation’s capital and at many other locations.