Born: August 9, 1980 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Kat is an exciting, talented example of the current new generation of singer/ songwriters who presents her own brand of jazz-influenced, contemporary music to an ever-increasing and diverse audience.
From her unique take on the traditional jazz standards, to her personal and soulful interpretations of the music of Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones and even the Arctic Monkeys and Oasis, this Boston born vocalist wins appreciation in theatres, clubs, restaurants and even bateaux on London’s River Thames.
She is in constant demand and regularly works as a duo with jazz guitar or piano, as well as with many of Europe’s leading musicians in big bands; nonets; as part of an eight piece Ella Fitzgerald tribute and with her own trio and quartet.
Her passion for jazz was developed at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston, USA and she honed her skills further at New York University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree, majoring in drama and voice. She is now based in New York.
Awards:Berklee College of Music Judges' Choice Award Berklee College of Music Outstanding Vocalist Award
For the Rose Room, Gang chooses the American songbook, linking her popular selections with conversational comments about the history of the Plaza Hotel and the era of the 1930's and '40's, a heyday for these standards.
While Gang takes the traditional Gershwin and Porter melodies on a serpentine jazz route, she never loses touch with the lyrics, and the traditional tunes take on a fresh shine. She gives Irving Berlin's Cheek to Cheek a staccato phrasing, letting the tune fade away with a repetitive cheek to cheek to cheek to cheek… She is right there, with keen insight, in every selection. Singing Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's Manhattan, she glides into the line Sweet pushcarts gently gliding by, Joe Young's guitar picking out a few identifying notes of John Kander and Fred Ebb's New York, New York. Introducing Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's seductive 1942 classic, That Old Black Magic, she reveals that Mercer's muse for the lyric was the star-crossed love-of-his-life, Judy Garland. Gang builds the rendition, climbing toward a sizzling denouement, Aflame with such a burning desire…
With a secure and trained four-octave range, Gang has an individual style that can be light and breezy one moment, but then she turns the tone down low to caress lush long lines. A good actress, her bright sound and lively scat fit neatly with the wit she finds in many tunes, but she turns romantic as naturally as any chanteuse. She openly revels in the tenderness of amour as she floats the words of Embraceable You (George and Ira Gershwin) above the sultry swaying of her rhythm band. Pablo Beltrán Ruiz and Norman Gimbel's Sway moves from romance into lust. Gang has all moods covered.
Kat Gang is not delivering hard-driving jazz although the interpretations are complex and embellished, jumping from vulnerability to the muscular swing of All of Me (Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons). Mentioning that her favorite version of that 1931 tune was by Sarah Vaughan, she takes off, sparkling with joy, rhythm and her own fluid scat.
It must be recognized that while this venue is not a smoky jazz club but an upscale landmark New York hotel, the Rose Room is a bar, albeit one of the more elegant ones. Bobby Short used to say, I don't care how pretentious (a room) is, there are moments it reduces itself to being a saloon. Conversations here can get loud, just as they do in the Carlyle Hotel's Bemelmans Bar several blocks uptown.
The Plaza Hotel is presenting Kat Gang in association with Donald Schaffer Management and Ward Morehouse III, author of Inside the Plaza: An Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel. Gang takes care of the vocals with first-class support from Joe Young on guitar, Julian Smith on double bass, and Shawn Balthazor on drus. The chairs are comfortable, the atmosphere is plush, and the quartet begins its sets at 9pm. After the theatre or for just a cocktail, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy.
By the time it closed in 1975, the Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel had featured a luminous roster of stars on its stage over the decades; these included Liberace, Carol Channing, Burl Ives, Eddy Duchin, Kitty Carlisle, the Mills Brothers, Bob Fosse, Victor Borge, Marge and Gower Champion, Eddie Fisher, Xavier Cugat, the McGuire Sisters, Dinah Shore, Vic Damone, Bob Hope, Robert Goulet, Frankie Laine, Ethel Merman, Eartha Kitt, Henny Youngman, Liza Minnelli, Peggy Lee, Andy Williams, Kay Thompson, Vikki Carr, Julie Wilson, Diahann Carroll, Hildegarde, Lisa Kirk, Celeste Holm, and the first and only club act by Elsa Lanchester, among others. Since that time, it has metamorphosed into the world-famous Rose Club, a perfectly elegant space identified by the marble staircase leading to it from the lobby and the plush couches upon which to enjoy a cocktail or a nibble. As such, the spirits of entertainers and performances past linger throughout the space. Which, as it happens, only serves bandsinger Kat Gang in greater stead as she appears there every Wednesday night at 9 PM for an open-ended run, even though she hardly needs any assistance to shine as a nightlife standout. In her show, entitled An Evening of Elegance, the stately and nearly-heartbreakingly-beautiful Ms. Gang is joined by the jazzy trio of Joe Young on guitar, Julian Smith on upright bass and Shawn Balthazor on drums, and never once does the group disappoint for an instant. After the combo sets a musical tone for the evening with a very impressive rendition of “I Remember You,” Gang assumes her rightful place at the microphone and bewitches the crowd with “Cheek to Cheek,” and the dazzling lilt possessed by her vocal pipes is never anything less than utterly enchanting. She proves equally impressive with two Gershwin numbers performed back to back, namely “They Can’t Take That Away” and “Embraceable You,” and when she tears into Arlen and Mercer’s classic “That Old Black Magic,” she clearly establishes herself as one of the finds of the season. There are moments where she’s oddly reminiscent of Sylvia Tosun, a cabaret chanteuse of similar physicality who scored a triumph at Eighty Eight’s in the mid-1990s, but Gang seems to have more than that, namely an indescribable charisma. She only serves to top herself further with “Sway” by Pablo Bertran Ruiz and a scat-laden “All of Me,” and by the time she’s extricating herself from the stage with “My Baby Just Cares” by Walter Donaldson, it’s clear that the audience (which that night included Jamie deRoy, Terese Genecco, Roy Sander and Ward Morehouse III) know as one that they’ve just witnessed the breakout performance of a serious contender. Kat Gang and An Evening of Elegance seem to have no plan to vacate the Rose Club anytime soon. A more pleasant diversion from life’s hardships couldn’t possibly be had (or so thoroughly savored) by anyone in the New York area.