A songwriter and vocal interpreter of uncommon emotional depth and intuitive lyrical insight, L.A. jazz veteran Cathy Segal-Garcia has the uncanny ability of discovering deeper, previously uncharted soul territory in a song no matter the surroundings. I described her 2018 large ensemble album The Jazz Chamber as “freewheeling” and “joyfully schizophrenic.”
Her latest, true to its title Dreamsville, is completely opposite in tone and thematic intention, remarkable for its pin drop hushed sense of intimacy and masterful expressions of tender, thoughtful moods. She keeps her accompaniment gentle and sparse, ensembling beautifully with guitarist Larry Koonse and pianist Josh Nelson, who paint elegant harmonic colors behind her lead vocals (and otherworldly scatting on “Scarlatti Sonata in B Minor”) and create expansive improvisational solos which ease effortlessly into meditative territory.
It is testament to Segal-Garcia’s heart on the sleeve songwriting prowess that “The Three of Us,” her heartbreaking ode to her departed sisters, and “Beyond the Years” – a wistful meditation on finding lover in later years – stacks us admirably among slightly off the beaten path gems by Claire Fischer, Horace Silver and Henry Mancini.