by Jeff Becker
Greasy, spicy and delicious, no I am not talking about food; I am talking about the debut CD from Kat Walker Jazz Skat Gumbo. Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm this is hot New Orleans swing and Walker serves it up with authenticity.
At first listen you could mistake this CD as one of the many vocal jazz albums with countless renditions of well-worn standards, which would be an oversight; this CD is rich with the southern red clay and double fisted barrel house piano of juke joints.
For this review we will focus on “It Don’t Mean A Thing, (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” The band leads off with a full form setting up this swingin’ rendition, pianist Bart Ramsey’s “stride-ish” left hand counterpoint creates a nice pad under Walker’s vocals. You can almost hear Kat smile when she comes in, her vocals are bouncing, fun and in the pocket. Her voice is whiskey soaked and like a fine weathered horn. The first solo is embarked on by Ramsey; he uses chromaticism to turn up the heat to a boil. Reedman, Dominick Grillo heads straight to the kitchen ala Sam Butera style and adds his spice to the gumbo. Bassist, Spike Perkins and drummer Dennis O’ Toole take their turn in the sous chef seat and add in their zesty creole into the mix. To tie up the meal Kat Walker sprinkles in a bit of “vocal scat” making this dish a tangy delight.
Infectious, fun and just enough zing to make it swing. A nice calling card for a debut CD, Jazz Skat Gumbo will leave you satisfied.