Reviews for Straight Up With a Twist
Dan Ouelette, Down Beat (Four
"As the title of her superb new CD implies, Margolis takes
the straightahead jazz route, but applies enough pleasing twist-and-turn
variations on the theme to come up with one of the most compelling
vocal jazz collections of the year. Margolis delivers the music
with caressive passion, sparkling passion and breezy lyricism, embracing
various textures, colors and grooves to recast old tunes in a new
light. She offers an upbeat, Coltrane-inspired arrangement of "All
or Nothing at All," undergirds "Getting to Know You"
with African polyrhythms and immerses herself into a funk-simmering,
reggae-tinged rendition of "Fever." Instrumental stars
include tenor saxophonist Kenny Brooks and guest Roy Hargrove on
muted trumpet. Margolis also invites Charles Brown to the party
for two tunes, including a hip soul-jazz jaunt through "The
'In' Crowd," that's the hands-down highlight of the show."
"Exactly who is and isn't a "jazz" singer is something
jazz enthusiasts will debate forever. But if anyone is the epitome
of a jazz vocalist in the 1990s, it's Kitty Margolis. Like her two
previous CDs, "Live at the Jazz Workshop" and "Evolution",
the equally absorbing "Straight Up With a Up With a Twist"
leaves no doubt that the Bay Area resident is an imaginative and
committed improviser who takes more than her share of chances. Margolis'
recognizable style mixes the warmth of Ella Fitzgerald with the
abstractions of Sheila Jordan and Betty Carter. The result is a
unique mix that comes off well on interpretations of Monk's "In
Walked Bud," Peggy Lee's hit "Fever," and her fun
duet with Charles Brown on the '60 R&B song "The In Crowd."
Instead of approaching the latter as grits-and-gravy soul-jazz,
Margolis and Brown keep things enjoyably quirky and a bit left of
center, employing odd harmonic structures. Though she's been praised
by the likes of Stan Getz and Bobby Hutcherson and has enjoyed countless
rave reviews, Margolis has yet to establish her name in jazz circles.
This could be the recording to change that."
Derk Richardson, San Francisco
"Way too cool to cop any trendy lounge-core attitude on her
cocktail titled third album, Margolis stirs up daring concoctions
that emphasize the "twist" far more than the "straight up." If you
think you know what to expect from "Fever", "The In Crowd," or music
from the King and I , get hip to the way Margolis refreshes them
with her allusions to everything from Coltrane and Monk to sambas
and Congolese Pygmy trumpets. Her playful interaction with Charles
Brown and trumpeter Roy Hargrove may be all-star highlights, but
Margolis' voice is the crucial, intoxicating ingredient. She makes
"For All We Know" a devastating seduction, resurrects Brian Jackson's
"Prayer For Everybody to be Free" with renewed hope, and redefines
not only what we think of as scat singing but also what a jazz vocal
album can be."
"Margolis can stretch out time like taffy, pulling her phrases
against the underlying rhythms in a tension that conflates the hypnotic
with the erotic..."