Jazz Bio

Cathy DeWittCathy DeWitt was destined to be a musician, and playing jazz is in her blood. Before she was born her father Bruce led his own band in New Orleans, regularly opening for Louis Armstrong at Pete Fountain's place. At a very early age music filled her house, from her father's Dixieland trumpet and stride piano to the Rachmaninoff and Chopin pieces her brother Peter, a prodigy pianist, rehearsed every day on the grand piano in the living room. As the family gathered to watch the television variety shows of the 60s, she heard all the famous singers interpreting the great songbook of jazz and show tunes, and she never forgot the lyrics to many of those songs.

Bruce DeWitt
After honing her harmonic skills as a member of the University of Florida Choir and Willis Bodine's Chamber Singers, Cathy met and began performing with jazz guitarist Charlie Bush. This was the beginning of her career as a jazz singer, which led to performances throughout Florida, as well as New York, California, London, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. After Charlie's untimely death in 1984 she formed her own band, MoonDancer, which is still playing today. A board member of the Gainesville Friends of Jazz & Blues, she has produced and/or performed in many concerts, singing with many great musicians, including pianists Dave Frishberg and Rob Bargad, guitarist Larry Camp, and bassist Walter Booker. Several of these concerts were recorded for broadcast by the local public radio affiliate, WUFT, and make up the basis of her album, Love Notes, shown below.

Live Recording: "Love Notes"

These selections, "love notes" after a fashion, are written in a language in which Cathy is quite fluent. "I listen to the songs themselves more than to any particular singer. There are so many wonderful singers," Cathy says. "To me, a song is a way to communicate on a very special level. When you're singing a great song about love, you have an amazing opportunity to connect with the audience."

Cathy DeWittThat connection was made many times during these concerts, even when their regular venue, the Thomas Center, was flooded and the show had to move at the very last minute to the Sovereign Restaurant. "I Just Found Out About Love" comes from that show, and features Frank Sullivan, Gainesville's gem on the piano, who masterfully drives the band on this piece. Mark Fox also shines here - listen to how he picks up the previous line and runs with it as he starts his solo.

Another more recent concert is also included, with the phenomenal Rob Bargad on piano. Rob spent several years on the road holding down the piano chair with the Nat Adderley band, and he has also played in Europe and Japan with the Harper Brothers and Vincent Herring. Rob's muscular style is evident on "There Will Never Be Another You," and his flowing touch shines in "When I Fall in Love."

Also on "There Will Never…" and on Cathy's original "Everybody's Somebody's Child" is the late and very great Roland Burns. In his hands the alto becomes an instrument of intense warmth - not so with most practitioners. Like an embrace, his sound is missed intensely the moment it stops, and we wish it never had. And Dave Sloane, the master of tone and sensitivity, is a joy to hear on "For a God In Blue," a powerful ballad that speaks to all mentors - another DeWitt original.

Bassist Walter Booker, another Adderley veteran who has played with Sarah Vaughan, Kenny Barron, and Jimmy Cobb, lends his swinging touch to a couple of numbers here; listen for Bookie's creative finish on "Up Jumped Spring." Cathy's vocal movement perfectly suits the tune, and Roland's horn adds just the right lift.

A touch of Cathy's choral roots is revealed in the interplay between her and Frank Sullivan on "Alice in Wonderland," and her voice is flat out beautiful on "You Taught My Heart to Sing" (accompanied by pianist Kurt Lang) and "It Might As Well Be Spring." Frank is right there every step of the way (without stepping on any toes) to support the vocals on the duets.

"I've been so lucky to sing these beautiful songs with such an incredible group of musicians. Each one brings their own special flavor to the mix," Cathy says. "I'm very grateful to all of them for their creativity and support." This recording is imbued with an almost innate communication between the singer and the band, and we are all lucky to receive these notes of love.

Love Notes

The Songs (click to hear a sample):

  1. I Just Found Out About Love
  2. It Might As Well Be Spring
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. When I Fall in Love
  5. Up Jumped Spring
  6. For a God in Blue
  7. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
  8. Everybody's Somebody's Child
  9. There Will Never Be Another You
  10. You Taught My Heart to Sing

The original recordings were made from six concerts between 1987 & 1998. WUFT-FM graciously provided their Remote Recording Truck. Instruments and voice were close miked and mixed live to 2-track digital tape, mostly by Will Kinnally. Digital mastering for this CD by Rob Rothschild.

See Cathy's Musical Press Kit