Cathy 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.
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."
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
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
" 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.
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.