Whatzup
A Hopeful Cat in a Dog's World
various artists

by Jason Hoffman Hopeful Cat
By now most whatzup readers should be familiar with the Cat series of compilation albums instigated by jazz bassist Dave Nelson to raise awareness and proceeds of autism, a condition that afflicts one of his children. With A Hopeful Cat In A Dog’s World, the third installment, Nelson has taken a completely different route of distribution. Instead of selling the album to raise funds, he is literally giving them away with the hope that people will donate to the cause. The CD release party will be on February 17 at Mad Anthony Brewing Company from 6 to 11 p.m. and will feature performances by many on the album.

Hopeful Cat opens with a Todd Harrold original, “Real.” Flanked by Eric Clancy, Chris Harris and Dan Mihuc, this quartet lays down some smooth R&B with a tight groove and a wonderful musical outro where all the musicians get to strut their stuff. Nurse provide “Revolve” from their debut album, a shoe-gazing yet passionate jam session. “Plea For a Good Night’s Rest,” off Devon Sproule’s album Upstate Songs, is a fittingly gentle lullaby with acoustic guitar and sweet, hopeful vocals. Another lengthy jazz number, “I Don’t Know Yet” by Bill Moring & Way Out East follows, this time with some very nice horn harmonies from trumpet and saxophone. Amy Lee Moser weighs in with “Lunacy,” a previously unreleased piano song that is low and dark with breathy vocals giving an ethereal quality.

A pleasant surprise is “Courage by the Inch,” a “lost” Einstein Savage track including members of Jackie Fly alongside the “usual” flute, violin and harp. Mark Turney leads this mad troop of world rockers through some classic Savage that will surely be balm for those going through withdrawal. “Roselyn,” by The Ivory. is a quiet song of devotion that spends its intro in an extended instrumental passage that has hints of the 70s before opening up to acoustic guitars and a more standard format. The Jack Patton Quintet lays down some pleasingly smooth jazz characterized by vibes and guitar in addition to the usual piano, bass and drum combo.

Cathy Serrano weaves a haunting and somber spell with an extended solo passage on the Native American flute (jarringly interspersed with snippets of a radio interview with Dave Nelson and bits of Gillespie studio wonderment) while the Monastic Chambers house band, Thylacine, lends the title track of its unique album, combining piano, a singing violin, and rich baritone vocals to create closing credits for an unfilmed yet satisfying dramatic movie. “For Julian” was written by the Eric Clancy trio for this project and is light and airy, pleasing and uncomplicated. Dream Rodeo provide the new age pop of “Song for Elizabeth,” which layers reverb-drenched female vocal harmonies on wispy keyboards for an enchanting listening experience. Every song from David Todoran’s Luck In This Life is stellar, and the melancholy pop of “Our Own Half Moon” is no exception. The album closes with what I believe is an early-90s CCM song, “I Choose The Man That You Are” by Rhythm House, a steady and encouraging ballad.

A project like this wouldn’t be possible without the generous donations from area musicians and corporations. To wit: Lupke-Rice Associates, Strebig Construction, Parrish Leasing, OmniSource, PC HELP!, GIS, Inc, Mad Anthony Brewing and Monastic Chambers. As they are literally giving this album away you are encouraged to burn a copy from a friend and download the art at www.pchelpservice.com/julian/ or stop by the CD release party on February 17 and the Mad Anthony Brewing Company.

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