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VALLEY WEEKEND : MUSIC / SOUNDS : Touring Helps Singer Expand Her Horizons : Cathy Segal-Garcia says she is 'more free to experiment and make mistakes' when performing abroad.

November 02, 1995|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's not that Cathy Segal-Garcia doesn't like living in Southern California, it's that she relishes getting out of town, especially abroad.

"I love traveling," says the jazz singer who just got back from a productive trip to Europe. "I don't want to be on the road 12 months a year, but I do enjoy going to other countries, especially when the money is decent, you're making good music and being acknowledged."

In Europe, where the Boston native has traveled five times in as many years, Segal-Garcia both performs and teaches clinics. During the last trip, she worked in Nuremberg, Germany; in Nancy, France; and Oviedo, Spain, a coastal town on the Atlantic Ocean.

In these situations, where she worked with pianist Phil Strange, Segal-Garcia says she finds herself growing as an artist more than if she were regularly appearing in Los Angeles, and she is receiving more recognition.

"I'm more free to experiment and make mistakes," says the singer, who appears tonight at Lunaria in West Los Angeles and Friday at J.P.'s Lounge in Burbank.

"If Phil and I are in a little town in Spain, it really doesn't matter if we make mistakes. We don't want to be horrible, but we can be adventurous. That's more limited here because you want to impress your colleagues. And in Europe, or Japan, where I've been 15 times, people feel you're really special, which helps your self-acceptance, whereas here, audiences tend to be more complacent."

Segal-Garcia is a versatile artist who infuses her renditions with the spirit of exploration, making her numbers unique. "I sing in a modern jazz style, like not always singing the melody, or singing over a bar line," she says. "That style is fascinating, fun, artistic."

The singer works at J.P.'s with pianist Karen Hernandez and drummer Frank Wilson, and while she hasn't appeared with the keyboardist in many years, she's looking forward to renewing their musical acquaintance.

"Karen has a great sense of rhythm, a cool swing and bluesy feel," says Segal-Garcia, whose debut album is "Song of the Heart" on Why Not? Records. "And she's very supportive of singers."

Segal-Garcia is asked how she'll be able to offer her exploratory style with Hernandez' more blues-minded stuff. "That's the challenge of working with different people," she says. "You don't want to lose yourself, your voice, and yet you want to communicate musically."

* Cathy Segal-Garcia appears with Karen Hernandez from 9 p.m to 1:30 a.m. Friday at J.P.'s Lounge, 1333 Hollywood Way, Burbank. No cover, no minimum. (818) 845-1800.

*

Horn of Passion: Phil Vieux, just 23 and raring to go, lives for music. "It's like a mandatory extension of myself," he says with zest. "I'm constantly itching to play."

Vieux isn't just talking. "I spend 15 hours a day practicing, teaching, rehearsing, gigging. It's everything," says the Los Angeles resident, who is from San Francisco.

The saxophonist is a member of John Coltrane bassist Art Davis' quartet, he appears on two albums with the Black/Note quintet and his own debut, "Point of Vieux," is just out on World Stage Records. He leads his quartet, the Hue of Vieux, on Saturday at Bjlauzezs in Sherman Oaks, and works every Tuesday at Fifth Street Dick's in L.A.'s Crenshaw district.

The horn man is a passionate player who enjoys delivering long solos that both cherish melody and sometimes go against mellifluousness. He calls his style "post-modern bop."

"It's based in swing, hints at the blues," he says, "and almost everything we play has chord changes and a definite form." In others words, it's fairly accessible for the average Joe.

* Phil Vieux's quartet plays 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at Bjlauzezs, 14502 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. $5 cover without dinner. Information: (818) 789-4583.

*

Hot, Not Cool: Some critics have called the L.A. Jazz Quartet's style "cool and laid-back," but they're off by a mile. Sure, the quartet with Chuck Manning (saxes), Larry Koonse (guitar), Darak Oles (bass) and Kevin Tullius (drums) offers some reflective wares, both in person--the group plays Monday at Jax in Glendale--and on its debut album, "Astarte."

But the group's accent is on now-sounding, invigorating material, the kind that's both heady and hip, that makes you tap your foot and want to say, "Yeah!" A band like that might be cool, but not where the temperature of its music is concerned.

* The L.A. Jazz Quartet plays 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday at Jax, 339 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. No cover, no minimum. Call: (818) 500-1604.

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