Jazz vocalist Kathy Kosins debuts “To the Ladies of Cool” on Resonance Records in March

Jazz vocalist Kathy Kosins doesn’t take anything for granted.  Since 2010, Kosins has adapted to the changing needs of the music industry, and specifically her fans, by releasing a regular series of digital singles.

The new album, her fifth, is titled To the Ladies of Cool, and the songs all derive from the repertoires of four canonical female singers of the 1950s: Anita O’Day, June Christy, Chris Connor, and Julie London. This is her first album for Resonance Records (which will release CD on March 13), owned and operated by George Klabin, whom she describes as, “this generation’s Bob Thiele, Norman Granz, and Creed Taylor.”    

From this vast pool of hundreds of titles, she says in a recent news release, “I selected 20 songs that were of interest to me.  On some occasions, I was intrigued by the title of a song I had never heard of.  A few of my choices were rather obscure – others were quite famous at one time, although I might not have known them.”  


In one instance, Kosins took Johnny Mandel’s famous instrumental “Hershey Bar,” a melody that had been scatted wordlessly by O’Day, and, with the composer’s express permission, added her own lyric to it and created “Hershey’s Kisses.”  Thus, she made “Hershey Bar” into something else entirely.  


Kosins stresses that To the Ladies of Cool shouldn’t be mistaken for a tribute album, in which a contemporary artist will simply “cover” the works of a canonical performer; it is even less a set of imitations. 
          
She also made a point to record the sessions in Los Angeles – then, as always, ground zero for the “Cool School” associated with these ladies.  Even more importantly, this gave Kosins the chance to work with such outstanding members of the L.A. local scene as the superlative pianist and musical director Tamir Hendelman (who was responsible for all of the album’s arrangements), guitarist Graham Dechter, multiple reed player Steve Wilkerson, and percussionist Bob Leatherbarrow.

Kosins is a singer, composer, songwriter (words and music), arranger, educator, and painter.  Born in Highland Park, Mich. (a city surrounded by the larger city of Detroit), she grew up in Detroit’s internationally known jazz and R&B scene.  Kosins was initially known as a singer of soul, rock, and funk, having worked extensively with the celebrated band Was (Not Was) as well as Michael Henderson. For the last 15 years or so, however, she has become famous as one of the most successful jazz singers of the contemporary era. As an instructor in this field, she has conducted master classes at over 100 colleges and universities. She also continues to work as part of a project called Detroit Memphis Experience.

Kosins has also maintained a second career as a visual artist, primarily as a painter of abstract original canvases – and has enjoyed gallery showings of her works throughout North and South America. 

Multi-instrumentalist Warren Wolf to release self-titled project on Mack Avenue Records on Aug. 16

The release of Warren Wolf, the eponymous debut album for Mack Avenue Records by Warren Wolf on August 16, will make it as apparent to jazz fans as it already is to jazz insiders that the 31-year-old vibraphonist is the next major voice on his instrument. 

Joined by a unit of authoritative swingers (bassist Christian McBride, pianist Peter Martin, drummer Greg Hutchinson, alto and soprano saxophonist Tim Green, and, on two tracks, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt), vibraphonist Warren Wolf, 31, offers a ten-piece program that admirably represents his singular blend of efflorescent chops, muscular attack, lyric sensibility, harmonic acumen, encyclopedic knowledge of hardcore jazz vocabulary, tireless groove and downright musicality.

“I’m trying to bring forth what most cats did back in the day, coming out right at you swinging, nice and hard, not a lot of hard melodies or weird time signatures,” Wolf said in a recent news release. “I like to play really hard, fast and kind of flashy. I like to take it to a whole other level.”
“What he does on vibes is pretty incredible,” said McBride, Wolf’s employer since 2007 in the Inside Straight band and co-producer of this album along with Mack Avenue EVP of A&R, Al Pryor. “You can’t hear Warren and not be highly impressed. Give him some music to learn, he pretty much has it committed to memory in a matter of minutes. In a couple of days, he has it on the piano. Then suddenly, he’s internalizing every part of the music-the melody, the chord changes, the song’s overall personality.” You’re listening to him, thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s what I had in mind.'”
Born and raised in Baltimore, where he currently resides, Wolf is less widely known to “civilians” than his bona fides would merit. Still, he’s anything but a newcomer on the scene. In addition to two self-released recordings and two dates for the Japanese market on which he tears through producer-selected repertoire with panache and an informed point of view, his CV includes gigs with such eminent veterans as McBride, Bobby Watson, Mulgrew Miller and Tim Warfield, and recent encounters with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the George Coleman-Joey DeFrancesco Quartet and a Music of the Modern Jazz Quartet project led by pianist Aaron Diehl, the 2011 American Pianists Association Cole Porter Fellowship winner. He also leads a strong working unit with Green, pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Kris Funn and drummer John Lamkin.

“I don’t think there’s anything Warren can’t handle,” McBride said. “My dream for him is that he eventually gets to collaborate with the super-duper heavyweights. I can’t wait to see where he’ll go next.”