Heart to Heart

Cathy Segal-Garcia / Ross Tompkins

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Heart to Heart Review

by Dave Nathan

With the likes of Jennifer Heaney, Phylls Ford, Cynthia Crane, Loretta Cormier, and now Cathy Segal-Garcia, the art of Cabaret singers continues to flourish. Her collaboration with pianist Ross Tompkins on Heart to Heart results in more than an hour's worth of pure enjoyment, with one small exception: Jackie Gleason's signature tune, the banal "Melancholy Serenade." Try as they may (and they try very hard), Segal-Garcia and veteran keyboard stylist Ross Tompkins cannot resuscitate this refrain. Segal-Garcia is pressed from the same mold as other outstanding Cabaret singers who set the standards for this style, notably Edith Piaf, Mabel Mercer, Bobby Short, and the inestimable Elisabeth Welch. She and Tompkins work their magic on a fine selection of standards, with the one exception already noted. Tompkins, who is best known as having been the pianist in the Tonight Show Orchestra for 25 years to date, has also performed with such notables as Zoot Sims, Herb Ellis, Freddie Green, and Kai Winding. As the costar of the album, he's accorded plenty of solo time. Especially notable is his work on "Skylark." Segal-Garcia's interpretation of the album's kick-off tune "You Are too Beautiful," in terms of depth of feeling, rivals the seminal version Johnny Hartman made with the John Coltrane Quartet on their classic 1963 album Lush Life. "My Old Flame" is done in a whimsical manner recalling a lost lover in a bittersweet way. The song is a perfect vehicle for Cabaret. There's a memory from Segal-Garcia's past with "Goodnight Sweetheart I," a home recording of the Spaniels hit which she made with her sisters in 1982. This and "Exactly Like You" are the only offerings which come close to being fast-paced. Everything else, including "Goodnight Sweetheart II," is done slowly, languorously, and with great feeling. Ross Tompkins's piano is the perfect foil to the clear, cool, perfect-pitch voice of Segal-Garcia. She is fortunate to be able to work with this versatile instrumentalist who clearly shares her passion for these classics from the Great American Songbook. As sheer listening enjoyment by a classy duo, this album is highly recommended.

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