Katie Cavera is a woman of many talents: she can play anything with strings (a variety of banjos, guitars, and string basses). Her ideal is Freddie Green, which should tell you something about her taste and swing.
She is also a sweetly unaffected but convincing singer, able to create delightful variations. (She played trombone in high school and is currently picking up the trumpet to fill in for a scarcity of trumpet players in her area: very little holds Katie back!)
Katie is also a nifty creator of short films that are both funny and sweet, some starring Tofu, the naughty Sock Monkey, who goes everywhere and breaks the rules wherever he goes. More about that in a minute.
Clint Baker can do it all: he can lead a band gently but effectively. He can write arrangements or create head-arrangements on the spot; he’s a good down-home singer, a hot cornetist, drummer, trombonist, reedman, guitarist, banjoist, bassist, tubaist, washboardist.
Katie and Clint made a CD. It’s a doozy, a honey, a wow, the cat’s whiskers / pajamas / meow. (Translation: I won’t be parted from my copy.)
Before we move on to the details, here’s a sample (courtesy of my pal Rae Ann Berry) of Katie and Clint — with Ray Templin at the piano — romping through TOO BUSY in 2009. (Katie likes the approach and repertoire of Lillie Delk Christian, and this performance is a particular favorite.)
The CD Katie and Clint collaborated on is called WHO’S FOOLIN’ WHO? — but the title doesn’t mean that you will be taken in if you purchase it. Oh, no — quite the contrary. Aside from a guest appearance by Monte Reyes on tenor banjo (on one track) and a piano feature for Robert Young on a rag Katie composed — which combines Satie, Joseph Lamb, and Spike Jones — the CD is entirely given over to Katie and Clint. “Uh oh. Banjo and cornet, maybe, for an hour?” I hear some of you muttering.
No. Through the magic of beautifully-done overdubbing, it’s a full hot band. Katie sings and plays five instruments; Clint plays ten. I know that overdubbing doesn’t always work. Sidney Bechet’s One-Man-Band worked because it was Bechet (a matter of sheer passion); George Avakian’s cut-and-paste experiments with Louis Armstrong were miraculous because they allowed us to hear Louis accompany Louis. (Is there anything finer?)
But the Katie-Clint endeavor works so well because the recording was done by Monte Reyes, who knows how jazz should sound, and because Katie and Clint are on the same wavelength. So the result swings most enchantingly — a nice mix of standards and a few originals.
I must report that one of the originals, YOU’VE BEEN A NAUGHTY BOY — somewhere between Annette Hanshaw and Mae West — so captivated me that I played it over and over in the car, grinning as I drove.
I have little patience for Christmas songs — especially at the end of March — but this Christmas song promises something sweetly, tenderly romantic as a present, and it rolls along irresistibly. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Fortunately for us, Katie used her song — in this version– as the soundtrack for one of her “silent” films, where she reveals yet another talent . . . as subtly funny philosopher. The film features Katie’s husband, magician Woody Pittman, in a starring role:
To find out more about the CD (such as the important question: How can I buy several?) visit http://www.katiecavera.com/disc.html and find out all the answers.
And — just in a musing way — I think the moral of the film, tenderly enacted, is that our life’s pleasures are often under our noses, so much so that we take them for granted. (You may begin to hum BACK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD at this point.) I feel this way about Katie and Clint’s CD: once you have a copy, you will wonder how you got along without it to listen to.