CD Review: Kathy Kosins’ ‘To the Ladies of Cool’

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In this alternately swinging and atmospheric collection, metro Detroit native Kosins tips her hat to the breezy elegance projected by four chanteuses who embodied the West Coast Cool Jazz style of the 1950s: Julie London, June Christy, Anita O’Day, and Chris Connor. It’s not a tribute album in the conventional sense, because Kosins doesn’t try to mimic the signature songs of this quartet of songbirds. For instance, instead of rehashing Julie London’s “Cry Me a River,” she unearths a relative rarity: the melancholy “November Twilight,” which Kosins invests with her own sense of autumnal ruefulness. She cruises through “Nightbird” with rhythmic freedom and colors “Don’t Wait Up for Me” with romantic resignation, which is underscored by Gilbert Castellanos’ moody trumpet. Kosins, who was born in Highland Park, may not have the most vigorous pipes around, but neither did Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, or Julie London, proving that emotional weight is often more important than mere lung power. Arranger/pianist Tamir Hendelman gets high marks for his work on this fetching release.

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