Live reviews


by Marianne Matheny-Katz

Kristin Callahan’s new CD One Magic Day takes its title from the lyrics of “Nature Boy,” one of the featured songs on her disc: And then one day / One magic day he passed my way / And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings / This he said to me / “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn / Is just to love and be loved in return.”

The title seems appropriate, as this is a very romantic collection of fourteen songs that speak of deep emotion (especially love) and the magic of everyday experience, all presented in Callahan’s clear, soothing voice and straightforward style. The tunes are mostly popular and familiar standards, and the arrangements are subtle and personal. Callahan’s voice, at times, contains aspects of Jane Monheit’s along with an occasional breathiness reminiscent of Astrud Gilberto, but she has her own distinct voice and point of view. It’s the kind of voice you want to hear when you come home from a stressful day at work and need to relax. This voice on the CD player and a glass of red wine would be an instant prescription for unwinding.

The song list includes “Fly Me to the Moon,” with a rubato beginning transitioning to an easy swing, highlighted by Warren Wolf’s energetic vibraphone fills; “My Funny Valentine,” a lovely duet up front with piano and the bass coming in on the second chorus; a very swinging “East of the Sun”; a bass and voice duet on “Bye Bye Blackbird” and a treatment of “Nature Boy” with bandoneón (a concertina-like instrument from South America) underscoring the vocal line, giving it a distinctly international flavor.

The supporting instrumentalists are some of the best in the Baltimore-Washington area (and in the nation) and they lend a great deal of polish to this CD: Vince Evans on piano, David Cole on guitar, Eric Wheeler on bass, JC Jefferson on drums, Warren Wolf on vibraphone and Argentinian Emmanuel Trifillio on bandoneón. Wheeler’s bass lines are always in the pocket, and he especially shines on the vocal/bass tunes, “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Jefferson’s drums show an impressive range on the disc from easy and gentle to joyful, full-out swinging. Wolf’s vibes bring magic to “Fly Me to the Moon” and to one of my favorites, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” raising these familiar standards to another level. Cole’s guitar playing is romantic and understated on “Quiet Nights” and “So Nice,” giving Callahan a beautiful platform for her mellow vocals. Tying it all together is Evans on the piano. Evans is a world-class pianist, sought after by many artists across genres, an effective and beloved educator and every vocalist’s (including my own!) dream accompanist. His sensitive, fluid playing, along with his unfailing attention to the vocal line, create arrangements that perfectly unite musical phrasing and lyrics. Callahan specifically thanks him on the back of her CD for teaching her so much.

Kristin Callahan is clearly a talent to watch. She has great musical taste, can deliver a song with heart and sensitivity, and knows how to surround herself with top-notch instrumental talent. Her CD is available on CD Baby, and downloads are available directly through her website at She will be performing at Twins Jazz in DC on Thursday, March 6.


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