Critically acclaimed jazz vocalist Kitty Margolis returns to her roots with Heart & Soul: Live in San Francisco in celebration of the 15th anniversary of Mad-Kat, the record label she co-founded with fellow San Francisco Bay Area vocalist Madeline Eastman. Margolis' voice is filled with the allied influences of such great jazz vocalists as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Betty Carter, but Kitty has marvelously achieved a certain balance of structure and soulful improvisation that expresses her own life and times. Her arrangements of the standards heard here are both versatile and ripe with assurance and provide ample room for her to swing hard with innovative vocal gymnastics or to reflect with quiet contemplation. Her sense of humor has also enamored her to audiences around the globe. On the opener, "Love Walked In," Margolis is in full stride, humorous, and immediately takes command of her audience. She involves them with her classic repartee prior to launching into her stinging arrangement of "A Sleepin' Bee." She continues the jazz standard and is swinging hard on "Summertime," bopping and scatting on this scorching interpretation she co-arranged with Joyce Cooling. Prominent mention goes to pianist Michael Bluestein, who brilliantly captures the mindset and glorious shades of Margolis' remarkable voice -- be it her rendering of "Heart and Soul" as a heavy romantic ballad or comping her innovative reworking of "My Favorite Things" as an up-tempo swinger with elongated phrasings, amazing improvised vocalese, and brilliant restrained fire. They end the set with a lovely piano/vocal duet they co-arranged titled "While We're Young," and leave you, the listener, with an amazing sensitivity of what that night in San Francisco must have been like. Margolis is truly adept and remains in the front ranks of jazz interpreters. She commands instant attention to every word she sings on Heart & Soul: Live in San Francisco and is quite, quite glorious.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein