Katie Bull

Conversations With the Jokers

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The debut album from this prodigiously talented singer focuses on standards and, for the most part, on a standard vocalist-plus-piano-trio format, with a couple of noteworthy digressions. Katie Bull sings in a warm, smooth voice that will remind some of Sarah Vaughan and others, interestingly, of the young Chet Baker -- at least until she starts to scat, at which point her rhythmic adventurousness and unusual syllabic choices make it clear that she is approaching this repertoire with an agenda all her own. She tackles "You and the Night and the Music" at a trippingly ambitious tempo, letting the words elide into each other in an almost unbroken stream; her aggressively swinging take on "What Is This Thing Called Love?" is more deliberate but no less unusual in its sometimes fractured accompaniment and in her deconstructionist approach to the lyric and melody. "See Through You" is all-out funk, a sexy and sinuous voice and bass duet that is ultimately a bit too low on ideas to justify its three-plus minute length (the other voice and bass duet on the album, a relatively straight take on "Like Someone in Love," is more successful). One wishes the piano had been more closely miked, but overall the sound quality is very good. This is a promising debut from a significant talent.

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