by Jeff Becker
Katie Bull’s new album, The Katie Bull Group Project, All Hot Bodies Radiate feels like the Tori Amos of jazz. Bull born in New York City, and raised in the West Village has an unabashed approach to jazz. Her father who played piano used to let her tag along to gigs and various jam sessions, as well as run around on the edges of the dance floors where he was teaching modern dance at NYU. This free spirit certainly has transferred to Bull’s freedom of expression through her music.
“The Crazy Poet Song,” is exactly what is sounds like. Bull has a way with words, that borders on the avant slant, and certainly is bubbling with quick wit and poignancy. On this tune, Bull approaches the tune with more of a spoken word lilt versus a full throttle vocal approach. Whereas “Venus on the A-Train,” features Bull in more of a reverent approach and singing about the perils of today modern world.
“Ding Done the Witch is Dead,” has the air of vibrational pull, with elongated notes, deep tones from the bass, and flurries of improvisational chaos. Bull injects moments of scatting with spot on jazz rhythm and chant like calls. While her bandmates colorize the track with a variable cornucopia of textures.
The album features twelve original compositions and two American Songbook explorations Harold Arlen’s “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “If I Loved You.” This is an album for the vocal jazz fan that relishes the outlying envelope of improvisation.