One of the added pleasures of the past year has been the opportunity to hear Cait Jones sing in a number of contexts. She can sing sad songs with deep awareness but she is a born joy-spreader, Red Riding Hood with a basket of happiness.
I was fortunate enough to hear her and two instrumental stars at the second-floor piano room of Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street (‘way downtown in Manhattan) on April 26, and I present four selections from that night for your pleasure. Cait was brilliantly accompanied by Tal Ronen, string bass, and Peter Yarin, piano. Tal is one of the most eloquent musicians I know, every phrase, every long line. I’d only known Peter as a brilliant member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks but was delighted by his limber, swinging accompaniment and solos.
But. Before you dive in, a parental advisory, a caveat, a trigger warning. No naughty words or lewd subjects. But the audience didn’t stop talking — that volatile mix of alcohol and self-absorption bubbling over the sides of the cauldron. And my microphone, although narrowly focused, captures all the sounds present at the time. I see it as the clash between Beauty and Ignorance, and for me — someone who can focus on Beauty — the lovely music wins. But if you are outraged by the audio quality or by the presence of goofy drunken yap, scroll down past these four performances to the bottom of this posting, where the sound is pristine.
And I reiterate: Cait is a marvelous singer. Her handling of the lyrics is wise yet light-hearted. She glides. Her first choruses saunter through the melody and words, fairly respectfully but stretching the line here, pausing or playing rhythmic games. Her second choruses (now that everyone knows the way through the woods) are fun and free: at points during this evening’s performance, I thought, “That’s the way Sweets Edison or Shorty Baker would play the melody, gently making us hear it for the first time.” See if you don’t agree.
The second song of the night, the pretty THAT’S ALL, usually a closing choice:
DON’T BE THAT WAY was once a sly sweet request but big bands took it more quickly. Harking back to Ella and Louis, Cait woos us in the best way:
Without trying to be Billie, thank goodness, Cait sails through ME, MYSELF, AND I:
nd for something more rueful, mournful, SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES:
But wait! There’s more! From a few months ago, Cait and Michael Kanan in duet on I HADN’T ANYONE TILL YOU:
Cait is not only singer and bandleader but also lyricist, a talent most vividly out in the open with her lyrics to music by Mathieu Najean. Here’s their collaboration on A MOMENT IN TWO:
Cait and Mathieu have recorded a whole CD of these collaborations, OUTTA THE BLUE WITH YOU, and here’s a thoughtfully charming one, DOWN AND ROUND CAROUSEL:
If you visit https://www.youtube.com/@caitjones, you can hear the remaining ten tracks — an intriguing chocolate box of musical delights.
And (perhaps breathlessly) that’s not all: Cait has a new CD — with Michael Kanan, Neal Miner, and Greg Ruggiero — soon to be issued. It’s wonderful.
So here’s to Beauty. Triumphant, transcendent. Conversation can compete with it but cannot bruise it.
May your happiness increase!