With Girl Talk, Grammy nominated Kate McGarry pays homage to her role models among the great women of the jazz vocal tradition, from Betty Carter to Sheila Jordan to Carmen McRae. Accompanied by an intimately swinging jazz combo, McGarry puts her own inimitable spin on such classic songs as “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “The Man I Love,” the winking title track and, as a dream duet with Kurt Elling, the Brazilian “O Cantador.” McGarry, although inspired by tradition, makes the album’s songs feel utterly contemporary, not only through her distinctly 21st-century musical personality but through the personal emotions and sexual politics at play.
The challenge and opportunity in this album was for McGarry to “honor the tradition these women developed but also allow the music to reflect life today – my life today,” she says. “Singing these songs can’t be like putting on a costume. I didn’t grow up in the ‘30s or ‘40s or ‘50s, and I wouldn’t consider myself a traditional jazz singer per se. As someone who has covered everything from Björk to Sting to the Cars, I definitely have my own influences musically, just as I’ve lived in a world that’s so different in terms of media and society. But the elements of harmonic and rhythmic improvisation, of swing, of storytelling – these are where those classic jazz singers and I connect. I see this album as a bridge between the contemporary things I do and the jazz tradition I learned so much from.”