Katie Guthorn – Why Not Smile?
San Francisco-based vocalist Katie Guthorn clearly has eclectic musical interests demonstrated by her broad and expansive repertoire from the old to the new. Some of her favorite songs come from Billy Strayhorn (“Lush Life”), Duke Ellington (“Prelude to a Kiss”), Rodgers and Hart (“Where or When”), Paul Williams (“Rainbow Connection”), Joni Mitchell (“Black Crow”), Ben Folds (“The Luckiest”), and R.E.M. (“Why Not Smile?”).
Interspersing jazz classics with more contemporary popular material, Guthorn has a knack for stamping every offering with her own personality. Thus, the set has a nice buoyant flow from beginning to end. A song like “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?” becomes a sweetly wistful remembrance that is both unpretentious yet poignant. The vocal teacher (with 24 years of experience) obviously practices what she preaches to her students.
Much of Katie’s success with this album is also attributed to her husband, Terry Haggerty (guitar), brother-in-law Tim Haggerty (producer, bass, keyboards), nephew Aaron Haggerty (drums), and Armen Boyd (tenor sax). Music has always been in Katie’s family. During her upbringing in New Jersey, musical family members encouraged her piano lessons and choir participation. Shortly after relocating to San Francisco in 1978, Guthorn fronted and recorded with several bands.
She acknowledges such influences as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Irma Thomas for the inspiration and development of her own voice with tone, energy and attitude. After Katie’s first husband of 22 years (tenor sax player Morey Goldstein) passed away from cancer in 2008, she married Terry Haggerty (original guitarist with the Sons of Champlin).
If you’re ever feeling forlorn, Katie Guthorn breezily closes with some sound advice, “Why Not Smile?” Like all of the music on this album, Katie knows how to use her warmly textured music to get the sun shining through, light up faces with gladness, and hide every trace of sadness. (Joe Ross, CD Insight)