September 4th, 2015 in News
The September 2015 issue of Jersey Jazz includes this review by Joe Lang:
Take a look at the list of songs on Just You, Just Me (Wayfae Music – 151) and you would think that this is a lot of the same old same old with a few newer songs tossed in to let the listener know that the singer is hip to more recent music. Well KAREN MARGUTH has a different frame of mind. First she is a lady of courage, having as her sole accompanist bassist Kevin Hill. Second she brings a fresh approach to songs like “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” “Just You, Just Me,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “Love’s Got Me in a Lazy Mood,” “I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good),” “Imagination” and “It’s All Right with Me.” The title of the last of these describes Marguth’s greatest asset, her imagination. Yes, she has a pleasant voice, but her phrasing and sensitivity to the lyrics sets her apart as a special singer. Having the added imagination of Hill makes the whole experience that much fuller. Perhaps this comes through most clearly in the way they put across “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me.” As to the other selections, Marguth has made interesting choices. There are not many current performers who would dig into the catalog of Nellie Lutcher, and if they do, it would normally result in their choosing “Hurry on Down,” “He’s a Real Gone Guy” or “Fine Brown Frame.” Marguth opted to sing “Baby, What’s Your Alibi,” and she makes it a saucy pleasure. To fill out the program, she chose Phoebe Snow’s “Harpo’s Blues” and a song by Richard Jones, father of Rickie Lee Jones, “The Moon Is Made of Gold.” Whatever song she sings, Marguth gives it an individual spin, and does so with satisfying results. The disc is short by today’s standards, only 37 minutes of music, but when it is this choice, you can just hit the play again button, and double your pleasure.
Jersey Jazz, the journal of the New Jersey Jazz Society, is published monthly eleven times a year with a combined July/August summer edition. Jersey Jazz is with filled with feature articles, photos, a comprehensive guide to the state’s jazz clubs and other performance venues, CD and performance reviews, upcoming events and news about the New Jersey Jazz Society.
Michael Steinman, who writes for HOT HOUSE, Cadence and The New York Jazz Record, has written a column in his blog JAZZ LIVES about Karen’s new release “Just You, Just Me.” Here are his words:
MARGUTH = MAGIC
Posted on July 12, 2015
Perhaps you have not yet heard Karen Marguth, who is a superbly winning jazz singer. If this is the case, I could choose to get annoyed about a culture that sometimes elevates glossy mediocrities over creative individualists, but why fill the air with bleakness? Rather, you have delightful surprises in store for you.
The reason I am celebrating Karen Marguth can be seen to the left — her remarkable new CD, JUST YOU, JUST ME. The cover image is tiny but the music she makes is blissfully expansive. She has only one accompanist — or collaborator — for the eleven delicious performances here, acoustic string bassist Kevin Hill. They are a glorious pair; you won’t want anyone else.
Many singers, some of them with the best intentions in the world (male and female) decide that their CDs have to be productions. So everything is done with beautiful elaborate care, down to the hair stylist for the photo shoot, the ornate arrangements — in the best tradition of singers who appeared, beautiful in person, in front of a big band where everything had been carefully planned out from the start. I am not mocking this approach to art, merely noting that I often listen with my eyes closed rather than staring at the gorgeous creature, artfully posed, on the CD cover.
Karen Marguth is approaching music from a different perspective. As music, as playful exploration. She has a light-hearted honest voice that pleases on its own terms. She sounds candid, as if she would never lie to us in music. Hers is a flexible joyous approach to the song. Karen has an instrumentalist’s ease — without “innovating” or “improving” on the composition at the composer’s expense. Karen takes small risks with bent notes, sweetly demure (but effective) scatting. And the most familiar songs glow under her caressing attention.
I should list them here: YOU’D BE SO NICE TO COME HOME TO / JUST YOU, JUST ME / I’M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT / LOVE’S GOT ME IN A LAZY MOOD / BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME / I GOT IT BAD / IMAGINATION / HARPO’S BLUES (by Phoebe Snow) / IT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME / BABY WHAT’S YOUR ALIBI? (by Nellie Lutcher) / THE MOON IS MADE OF GOLD (by Richard Jones).
Each track has a small delicious series of surprises in it: very little is predictable but all the quirky twists pay off in the best ways. I would suggest that listeners begin with I’M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT as a good place to hear what these reverent explorers accomplish so well. And then Eddie Miller’s SLOW MOOD, transformed into LOVE’S GOT ME IN A LAZY MOOD. There’s a song that has always made me want to leave the room — with new feminist lyrics by Karen and Brady McKay — BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME — that has become a hilarious delight because of Karen and Kevin. YOU’D BE SO NICE and IMAGINATION have been done and perhaps overdone, but they sound so fresh here.
And Kevin Hill is all the rhythm section — and eloquent soloist — any band would ever need. His sound, resonant without being overpowering; his intonation delightfully accurate. No one would feel encouraged to talk during his solos. Milt Hinton would have invited him to St. Albans for Mona’s chicken and a good long session in the basement. (There is no higher tribute I can imagine.)
I know a CD has captured me when, having heard it once through, I want to hear it again right away. I’m listening for the third time to JUST YOU, JUST ME, and I plan to play it for friends and make converts.
This unobtrusive little CD — about the length of an ancient twelve-song vinyl record of my adolescence — is a very important piece of art, because it bravely defies convention to present naked song, unadorned (yet expert) improvisation, joyous eccentric collaboration. In an age where froth tries to pass itself off as substance, Karen Marguth and Kevin Hill offer us beauty. And that is worth celebration.
Karen Marguth and Kevin Hill make magical music. You’ll hear.
Check out Michael’s blog here: https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/tag/karen-marguth/
Karen’s new album of eleven bass + vox duos, featuring bassist Kevin Hill, is now available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/karenmarguth.
John McDonough of DownBeat Magazine and NPR writes this about the album:
“It will fall to others to allot their own official praise to this, Karen’s newest and perhaps most courageous work. I say that only because it takes a rather spunky singer to go in to the world with only an acoustic bass man — the redoubtable Kevin Hill — at her side. But unlike Mary Tyler Moore’s crusty old editor-boss, I like spunk. Karen’s has the benefits of voice, technique, and taste. They are the kind of refining influences that turn common spunk into high art.”
February 15th, 2015 in News
The Milestones Youth Jazz Workshop is a JazzFresno project providing jazz performance and education opportunities for the youth of the Central Valley. Their summer jazz camp will take place this year from June 15th through June 20th. The camp is for jazz musicians and aspiring jazz musicians alike, from those just entering middle school to college students 20 years and younger. The faculty is made up of outstanding jazz educators and musicians who will lead small group ensembles and provide master classes and instruction in jazz theory and improvisation for kids playing at every level.
New for 2015 is the addition of a vocal jazz program, headed up by jazz vocalist Karen Marguth
Serving as artist in residence will be Gilbert Castellanos, one of the nation’s premier jazz trumpeters and a fixture on the Southern California jazz scene. Castellanos will also perform in concert for the public.
Registration for the camp is now online! Register and pay by February 28 to save $50.
Karen’s latest album made the list in DownBeat Magazine’s “Best Albums of 2013″ issue: