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The Target

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Album Review

There are some people in the jazz world who just plain don't understand subtlety. That's why trumpeters Miles Davis and Chet Baker received a lot of negative reviews from critics who couldn't figure out why they didn't sound more like Fats Navarro; it's why Paul Desmond was criticized for not playing his alto aggressively à la Phil Woods or Jackie McLean. But being subtle does not mean being unexpressive, and vocalist Kate McGarry is both subtle and expressive on The Target. This 2007 release is not an example of forceful jazz singing; McGarry is not a brassy, belting, R&B-ish type of jazz singer. Not that there is anything wrong with being a brassy, belting, R&B-ish type of jazz singer — that approach has been great for Ernestine Anderson, but it isn't where McGarry is coming from on her introspective performances of "The Meaning of the Blues," "The Lamp Is Low" and other standards. McGarry is someone who thrives on restraint and delicacy — even on Betty Carter's "Do Something" — but she never has a problem getting her points across emotionally. Unfortunately, the warhorse factor is too high on this 55-minute CD; did we really need to hear yet another version of "It Might as Well Be Spring," for example? But McGarry also turns her attention to Sting's "Sister Moon" and does so with pleasing results, reminding us that good things can happen when jazz vocalists are open to interpreting material from the pop/rock world. The Target isn't a five-star masterpiece, but it is an enjoyable disc that consistently underscores the value of subtlety and understatement.

Customer Reviews

Deeply satisfying album - we play it over and over

Kate's voice is always so easy on the ears, while also being stirring and provocative. And in this album she creates a blend of songs that really works well together, making this the kind of album we play again and again. The title song 'The Target', which Kate wrote, is particularly profound. Face it - this girl can sing! And the musicians who back her are truly top notch. The production is masterful, so the music is well balanced. This is one of Kate's best. If you don't have any of her others, start here. You'll soon want to own them all.

growing with every album

When McGarry sings, you hear not only a distinctively sweet, flexible, and textured voice, but a generous spirit, open heart, and searching intelligence. Her top-drawer band plays with equal creativity and care, and together they freshen a wide variety of tunes, from Miles to Sting to show tunes and standards.

this music is good for everything about you

This beautiful album is the latest in Ms. McGarry's catalog of smart, interesting, soulful music, and it might just be my favorite one. Kate is a force to be reckoned with as an improvisor, vocal technician and all-round musical thinker, but she never lets those strengths interfere with her ability and drive to connect with her audience in a way that leaves all notions of and concerns about style and genre back in the funny papers. Think Betty Carter's facility and wit but with the stripped-down, warm veracity of James Taylor or Rickie Lee Jones. Then make it all very much in tune, and put one of the best New York rhythm sections of the 21st century around it. (Rogers and Hutchinson have long been one of the best bass/drum combinations in the business, and Versace and Ganz are both excellent and complimentary as blazing soloists and sensitive, supportive colorists.) The album is full of fantastic and unique arrangements of well-known material, but it is the original compositions that shine brightest for me here-- Steve Cardenas's composition 'del Cenote' becomes a moving, haunting song with Kate's lyrics (She Always Will,) Keith Ganz's 'New Love Song' is as sweet and smart a jazz ditty as you'll ever hear, and Kate's 'The Target' is an exceptionally powerful piece with beautiful, profound, and refreshingly uncreepy lyrics on the subject of a higher power and the mysteries that surround it. I could go on and on, but more time spent reading this review = more time passing before this album becomes part of your life. Purchase it and I guarantee you'll be back for more of her work soon-- glad to be 'in the loop' of people to whom Kate brings such joy and hope.


Born: 1970 in Hyannis, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Being one of ten kids, Kate McGarry had to learn early on how to make her voice be heard. Hailing from the Boston area, McGarry attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and studied Afro-American music and jazz under such notables as Dr. Horace Boyer and avant-garde saxman Archie Shepp. Free from the confines of education, McGarry hopped into One O'clock Jump, a vocal group based in Boston. Thanks to their steady gigs in Monterey, McGarry got the opportunity to be a guest vocalist with...
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The Target, Kate McGarry
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