Cathy Segal-Garcia
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MARCH ISSUE OF LA JAZZ SCENE
Cathy Segal-Garcia's Wednesday Night Jazz Jam

At Sportsman’s Lodge Cathy Segal Garcia has been running the Wednesday Night jam session at Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City for more than four years. This is not an easy task considering the army of musicians and singers and want to be musicians and singers that show up. Based on their ability she knows how long to keep the performers on stage and when she has to step in and sing a song or two herself. She knows she still has to please the audience and most are there to hear her sing. The night I was there the “house” trio consisted of Eddie Olivieri who has been with Segal–Garcia since she started at Sportsman’s, Gary Pratt on bass and Joe Correro on drums. They do a marvelous job of backing the infinite variety of performers and abilities. Obscure tunes, vocalists with charts, the pros and the amateurs, the unprepared, all keys and all tempos is the order of the day and Segal-Garcia can handle it all.

Before the jam started Segal-Garcia sang three songs with the trio. She opened with a medium tempo version of “My Heart Stood Still”. She sang the precise melody, followed by improvising on the chords using the songs lyrics, followed by a couple of choruses of scat. This was an example of her pure sound, intonation and imaginative jazz choruses that the audience came to hear. The next tune was a bossa nova version of “Someone to Watch Over Me” followed by an up tempo version of “The Song is You". Later in the set Segal sang an up tempo version of “I Love You”. Olivieri had ample solo room, showing off his dazzling technique as did Pratt with several inspiring bass solos. The usual “fours” featured talented Correro on drums. As you can see by her selection of tunes, Segal-Garcia does not take the easy way out. She features quality standards that have “character”, for lack of a better word. She also sang an unusual arrangement of “Send In The Clowns”. The haunting vamp in the beginning set the mood for this slow “four”, instead of the usual triplet feel, arrangement of this "A Little Night Music" standard.

The Wednesday night performers included Alexi Zubov, on tenor sax, Guy Mack on trumpet, Charles Howell, Hal Asher and yours truly on drums. Vocalists included Ann Mack singing “The Gypsy”, Lynn Garrett performing “He’s Funny That Way” and Les Barrett’s interpretation of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me”. Billi Redd sang a Latin version of “Teach Me Tonight” reminiscent of the DeCastro Sisters arrangement of the 50’s. One of Segal-Garcia’s students 12 year old Ashley Stetson sang “Blue Skies”. At this young age she was developing her own style by the way she was bending her notes. She did need a little help from Segal-Garcia on the big ending, but this was another example of “expecting the unexpected” at these types of events. The jam session is fun and entertaining and gives a few performers A chance to show their talents, but the main attraction here is Segal-Garcia. She has earned her reputation as a singer’s singer here in Los Angeles, performing with many of the city’s greats and at all the jazz venues. The full house audience with many singers in attendance was substantiation of this.

For more information about Segal-Garcia’s upcoming performances, workshops, seminars and private lessons, go to her website at www.cathysegalgarcia.com

Ken Jennings

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