Kate McGarry & Art Lande December 2, 2007, Dazzle
Better than: Icing on a cold cake.
Art Lande is a funny guy, and his sense of humor often shines through in his piano playing. And it was amusing for Lande to open the first set by running his hands up and down the keys, creating pianistic cascades, while Kate McGarry blew sounds of wind into the microphone. But once McGarry started singing, “Love me, love me, love me, say you do,” it became clear what the intro was all about. It started out as a somewhat faithful take on Nina Simone’s recording of “Wild as the Wind,” but about a third of the way into it, Lande really started swinging. While Lande took his solo, McGarry closed her eyes and smiled. After McGarry sang the line, “I hear the sound of mandolins,” Lande stopped playing and scraped his fingers over the piano strings.
After the “Wild is the Wind,” Lande told the audience it was McGarry’s first time in Colorado. As they were driving over the hill that overlooks Boulder, Lande thought McGarry would be taken aback with the awesome view of the Flatirons and everything. So Art was surprised when McGarry just said, “Look at all those rabbits.” Lande told her they were prairie dogs. She laughed, saying she was an East Coast girl after all.
The duo then launched into a lovely interpretation of the Roger and Hammerstein’s “It Might As Well Be Spring,” which she also sings on her latest album, The Target. After McGarry sang, “I wish I were somewhere else,” Lande threw in a few little “out” tinkles, almost as if “somewhere else” were the “Twilight Zone.” Again, Lande is a funny guy.
Before starting the next song, Lande talked about how if they wanted to take a walk the following morning, they would have to get up early in order to get McGarry on the plane back to New York. As he looked toward the window and talked of an imaginary field. Lande said they’d have to walk past the goats and the grain silo until they finally reached the forest.
We’d find out later that it was Edna St. Vincent Millay’s forest they were taking us into, as they launched into her poem “Not So Far As the Forest” set to music. The song segued into “She Always Will,” which was written by McGarry and guitarist Steve Cardenas, and is also on The Target.
Lande then asked us what our favorite Thelonious Monk songs were. From around the room, people shouted out titles like “Brilliant Corners,” “Epistrophy,” and “Well You Needn’t” until finally someone yelled out “Think of One.” And I’m guessing Lande might’ve asked that particular person to call out the tune, since Lande and McGarry just happened to have the sheet music to the song. It was a great rendition of the tune, everything from Lande's sprinkling of Monk-isms to McGarry’s scat singing.
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After a bossa nova tune and a ballad, McGarry introduced Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” saying the forty-year old song wasn’t a standard, but it should be, and how Dylan prophesized things like the war and Hurricane Katrina in the song. They started the song with Lande thumping on a tambourine while McGarry slapped a percussion instrument that looked a big swirled lollipop. Lande then laid the tambourine down on the strings inside the piano, making everything he played sound percussive.
The two had some hilarious interplay on the blues tune “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” with Lande joking to McGarry, “Gotta smell the flowers of the world, and you’re not the only flower on the block.”
Lande introduced the next tune by saying how it was an Antarctica folk song, and that he met McGarry in Antarctica. Again, Lande iss a funny guy, and judging from the lyrics of “Cold Cake” like “icicle music forms on my ears,” that Lande himself might’ve written the tune. It was the ideal icing on a delightful set. -- Jon Solomon
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: While sitting in the front row, I really wanted to take a few pictures, but it was such an intimate set I was actually scared to even open up my camera bag. Random Detail: This was the third show they’d played in the last few days. By the Way: McGarry has also performed pianists Chick Corea and Fred Hersch.