Mood Swings

By Larry Nai,  ejazz

Vocalist Kathy Kosins stands out in the relative glut of Jazz singers by dint of her distinctive instrument. Combining terrific pitch control with subtly insinuating phrasing, Kosins possesses a voice that communicates intimacy and focus, as well as the impression that she could do just about anything she wishes to with it.

Another aspect of Mood Swings that sets it apart is the material: Kosins co-wrote seven of the eleven tunes herself, and quite a nice batch they are. “Just By Looking In Your Eyes” is a lovely ballad in duet with pianist Ellen Rowe, with a descending figure that sounds as if Kosins is walking a stairway into her paramour’s heart. “Love Me Like A Song,” with a warm string arrangement by Rowe, shows off Kosins’ richly-hued voice to good advantage; Rick Roe contributes a thoughtful piano solo. More up tempo is the brassy “Livin’ In Style,” where saxophonists Jim Gailloreto and Larry Nozaro sail over Kosins’ gutsy paean to the high life.

Kosins’ choice of cover versions is equally distinctive. Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady” is transformed into a sultry slow-burner, with imaginative keyboards from Gary Nester, and a Kosins vocal that speaks of vulnerability, delayed gratification, and some heavy-duty blues chops. Ending the disc is Jackie Gleason’s little-performed television theme song, “Melancholy Serenade,” bringing to mind Gleason’s classic album covers for his series of “mood” instrumental recordings. More often than not, the Great One’s LPs pictured a sexy temptress on their covers, holding a drink, smoking a cigarette, waiting through a lonely night for her man to arrive. Kathy Kosins could be that temptress, with her Mood Swings the soundtrack for a fine romance.