Continuing on her artful, imaginative and uber-adventurous roll of capturing the tightrope of intense anxiety and cautious hope that defines the current zeitgeist, L.A jazz great Cathy Segal-Garcia follows her soul-provoking twists on Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” and the gospel/jazz standard “Sermonette” with an intimate yet spacious and expansive (seven and a half minute) medley of two late 60’s classics that collectively allow her to speak frankly and powerfully to this tense moment where we feel caught between the need to feel optimism for humanity’s future and the despair of feeling lost: The Youngbloods’ “Get Together” and Steve Winwood/Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home.”
Still deeply spiritual but intentionally very different in tone from the rousing revival vibe of “Sermonette,” the opening “Get Together” portion begins with a solemn wordless vocal passage that almost sounds like a chant or incantation. Cathy’s solemn, meditative approach to Chet Powers’ timeless lyrics, combined with the moody, haunting atmosphere created by pianist/arranger Josh Nelson, guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Lorca Hart, create the equivalent of a jazz prayer.
It’s as though the singer is surveying our current sociopolitical landscape and realizing that while the love spoke of in the song is the answer, divine light within us and beyond us s definitely needed to shift our consciousness moving forward. On one hand listening to Cathy’s “Get Together” immediately after “Sermonette” is like exploring two facets of her freewheeling jazz artistry. Yet on a deeper level, they seem to reflect different aspects of her emotional/spiritual feelings at the present moment.
Four minutes into the medley, Anthony Wilson takes over for a guitar solo that begins reflectively and quickly builds in improvisational and emotional intensity – creating a fascinating contrast with Cathy’s more restrained vocals to that point. His power chords, combined with Nelson’s intense piano and Hart’s bustling drums, open the floodgates to the swell of impassioned energy Cathy brings to “Can’t Find My Way Home.” Although the title of the song and its first line seem despairing, its next lines bear an important message we can take as a universal call from the singer, and a perfect coda to the sentiments of “Get Together”: “Somebody must change/You are the reason I’ve been waiting so long/Somebody holds the key.”
So even if for the moment she aligns with the title sentiment of feeling lost, she is also expressing just enough hope to keep going and stick out the journey. Coming full circle, she emphasizes this point not with a big bang flourish, but with a gentle coda that rings as solemnly as the wordless vocalizations she launched the medley with.
Longtime fans of Cathy’s music will no doubt enjoy trying to figure out exactly where her musical and spiritual heart lies as they listen to the dynamics of this extraordinary peace. At the end of the way, however, everything is driven by her love of these two songs and what they meant in their time and what they can mean to us now. “I was a hippy and a musician, and love for humanity was important,” she says. “And now, at this time in our lives, Ifeel that a lot of those songs can affect us humans in a positive and deep way. Reaching into people’s hearts, touching that vulnerable and emotional place, acknowledging it…this is the power of music and lyrics, especially if there are singers who is touching that spot within themselves.”
Listen to "Get Together/Can't Find My Way Home" here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2axiRKsXv9qwjUzmTusc8c