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JAZZ REVIEW : Kathy Griggs Breaks Even at Catalina's

October 30, 1987|DON HECKMAN

At her best, singer Kathy Griggs can whip in and out of a song's melody with all the snap and crackle of a first-rate jazz improviser.

Her Wednesday night set at Catalina's Bar & Grill, however, found Griggs more concerned with the problems of performance than the subtleties of singing. In a continuing conflict with Catalina's usually dependable sound system, Griggs could manage little better than a tie.

Her opening numbers, especially "In a Mellow Tone" and "Imagination," were frustrating sequences in which her occasional lovely phrases were offset by jarringly misplaced rhythms and pitches--the latter problems obviously caused by Griggs' inability to hear what she was doing.

Once the sound system settled down to relative normalcy, the real Griggs emerged. She was at her best on an interesting medley of "Good Morning, Heartache" and "Black Coffee," with some particularly impassioned preaching at the climax.

"Green Dolphin Street" also impressed, in part because of the peppery rhythmic seasoning of Llew Mathews' piano. And a final blues, "You Made Your Move Too Soon," overflowed with the roving melismas and countermelodies that are among the most appealing qualities of Griggs' singing.

The somewhat insubstantial quality of the set suggested, however, that Griggs would do well to give a bit more thought to her program and, at the very least, make an effort to freshen the material. Even a singer with her obvious skills cannot survive on such hackneyed songs without making the effort to present them in a new perspective.

Griggs was accompanied by the briskly swinging Llew Mathews Trio.

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