Jun 5, 2017
Is Kathleen Potton’s new album a tribute to a tyrannical Roman emperor?
She’s quick to laugh that off. NERO, her debut CD which is available this week, is intended to be a nod to the great female singer-songwriters she has learned to admire. The Australian born Potton became entranced with the music of Laura Nyro after hearing Billy Child’s CD Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro last year, and found some people pronounced the late singer-songwriter’s last name the American “Nee-ro” instead of the British “Nie-ro.” An album title was born.
Rather than cover Ms. Nyro’s work, Kathleen’s CD is almost entirely her own material, music which has the smooth polish and shine of some “Smooth Jazz” singers, but none of the overblown arrangements or saccharin vocal stylings. Instead, there is a sense of intimacy, and the listener is drawn in, her sense of phrasing belying her age.
The sole cover on the album is of another of her musical idols, Joni Mitchell. “Chelsea Morning” is one of the less popular tunes recorded by jazz singers looking for the obligatory Joni cover, and Ms. Potton makes the most of the song’s stops and starts, staying fairly faithful to the original, but spinning it just enough to make it hers.
Podcast 575 is my conversation with Kathleen Potton, as we talk about NERO, the jazz scene in her native Australia, and how her live versions of some of her tunes vary from the recorded version. Musical Selections include her cover of Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" and “Love Not Lovin’.”