Kathy Kosins – To the Ladies of Cool – Resonance Records RCD 1018, 50:26 ****:
(Kathy Kosins – vocals; Tamir Hendelman – piano; Kevin Axt – bass 1, 5, 7, 8, 10; Paul Keller – bass 2, 3, 4, 6, 9; Graham Dechter – guitar; Bob Leatherbarrow – drums, vibes; Steve Wilkerson – woodwinds; Gilbert Castellanos – trumpet, flugelhorn)
If you have not heard of vocalist Kathy Kosins before that’s too bad, because she is the real deal. While her recording output to date is not extensive, this offering to the Ladies of Cool, should bring her well-deserved additional recognition.
The four “Ladies of Cool” in question are Anita O’Day, June Christie, Chris Connor and Julie London. Now while the first three had legitimate vocal pedigrees which featured clipped vibrato -less phrasing, each having spent time in the Stan Kenton musical organization where they brought about the vocal style of the band, Julie London had a small whispery voice with minimum range and was better known for her provocative album covers. A more appropriate but less well-known choice might have been Jeri Southern, who was a legitimate cool-style vocalist.
That small quibble aside, Kosins treats us to her unique interpretation of songs associated with the singers in question, but not those tunes readily recognizable such as “Let Me Off Uptown”, “Something Cool”, “All About Ronnie” and “Cry Me a River,” although it might have been intriguing to hear Kosins take on these classics. With clear diction and innate sense of swing, the opening track “Learnin’ The Blues” veers away from London’s languid version to a more straight ahead no- nonsense take. Kosins brings her inimitable approach to each of these re-adaptations of the original renditions of the compositions such that “Nightbird” and “Don’t Wait Up for Me” have a surprising new aesthetic in these versions.
What helps to make this discs all the more appealing, are the superb arrangements for the band and the marvellous piano support provided by Tamir Hendelman. On the June Christie popularized number “Lullaby in Rhythm”, Kosins is in scat mode with both Hendelman and guitarist Graham Dechter filling in the solo gaps. These two musicians are also prominent on the rarely heard “Free and Easy”. Johnny Mandel had originally written a number called “Hershey Bar “for tenor man Stan Getz, to which Kosins added lyrics and re-titled the tune somewhat facetiously “Hershey’s Kisses”.
This disc is a successful reminiscence of those 50s female vocalists whose artistry defined the word cool.
TrackList: Learnin’ the Blues; Nightbird; Don’t Wait Up for Me; All I Need is You; Free and Easy; Hershey’s Kisses; Lullaby in Rhythm; November Twilight; Kissing Bug; Where are You?
A 50 year expanded reissue of a late-career Peggy Lee album hits the mark.