Girl Talk

Although her sturdy frame might seem more suitable for belting out the blues, Kate McGarry’s winsome singing is more than up to the task of capturing the magic inherent in the songs she’s chosen to interpret here on this, her sixth CD. Originally from Boston, she moved to Los Angeles in the ‘90s where she worked in several clubs before moving back East a few years later. To prepare for this recording, McGarry listened to “hours of interviews with some of my favorite jazz singers"—Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter and Sheila Jordan—and gleaned valuable insights from their “girl talk.” Almost half of the disc’s 10 songs are love songs that vary in tempo from the perkily rendered “I Just Found Out About Love” to the slow, breathy “The Man I Love,” which she revamped into a “cautionary tale” and is enhanced by Gary Versace’s superb piano and organ accompaniment. She duets very effectively with her husband, guitarist Keith Ganz, on pianist Jimmy Rowles’ reflective ballad “Looking Back” and with vocalist Kurt Elling on Dori Caymmi’s “O Cantador.” Her scatting, however, which pops up on several selections, is definitely an acquired taste.

Kate McGarry performs at the SF Jazz concert series Friday, April 20, 7 p.m., at the Swedish American Hall.