Sunday, April 24, 2011

Con Alma Rocks the House

Con Alma sings a range of songs; they give everything a Jazz-tinged swing. Richard Kalman, the founder and leader of the group, plays keyboard and incorporates versatile bassist Michael Fourie and finesse drummer Richard Freeman into a strong three-piece rhythm section. The singers, including Kalman, then make the magic happen over that.

I've seen a few different versions of Con Alma; my interest started when the group began to contain my ex, Catherine de Cuir, whose considerable vocal talents I have experienced since we met many years ago. She can sing the lights out of Cole Porter, the Beatles or anyone else you can name. Last night, the group also included singers Patty Paul, Nancy Shneiderman and Terry Lee, led by Richard. Together, this ensemble fills the room.

Noteworthy group numbers included the Beatles' Come Together and Drive My Car (the latter sung acapella, with Ms. de Cuir performing George Harrison's guitar solo with her voice). They also hit it big with "How Sweet It Is to be Loved by You," "I Can See Clearly Now" and "The Way You Do the Things You Do."

Both sets included a middle section where the individuals got a chance to solo. Richard gives a pleasing Randy Newman treatment to his solos. High points from the others included Catherine nailing "Thou Swell" and Nancy evoking a powerful sentiment with Abbey Lincoln's "Throw it Away." Patty delivered on her solos too, but I was so immersed in listening that I neglected to write down the titles.

Con Alma is worth following. Until they produce a specific website for the group, see Richard Kalman's website or MySpace page for more information.

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