Jazz and R&B singer Kathy Kosins spent three years hunting down obscure tunes sung by female artists working in California during the early 1950s through mid-1960s at a time coined the “West Coast Cool Movement.” Some of the singers featured in clubs and on stage were Anita O’Day, Julie London, June Christy and Chris Connor.
“I wasn’t looking for their ‘A’ songs, just the ones they did that were lesser known,” Kosins said. “My plan was to create a record that celebrates their work. The CD is not a tribute or an interpretation of their material. It’s my own spin on these songs.”
Kosins will share songs from her 2012 CD “To the Ladies of Cool” and a few of her original tunes during concerts at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos and St. John’s College in Santa Fe next weekend.
Born and bred in Detroit during the Motown era, Kosins started her career as a background singer on stage and for recordings. She worked with the JC Heard and Nelson Riddle Orchestras before releasing her first album in 1996 titled “All In A Dreams Work.”
Her 2002 release “Mood Swings” was followed by the 2006 release “Vintage.” During 2010, she took a different tack and released singles quarterly under the Mahogany Digital label.
A past recipient of the Michigan Council for the Arts Jazz Composer of the Year award, Kosins has recorded with many jazz and R&B artists, including Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland, Peter Bernstein, Larry Koonse, Tamir Hendelman, Robert Hurst, Jeremy Pelt, Jon Ellis, Howard Levy, Don Was, Martin Wind, Ben Wolfe and Michael Henderson.
Her latest release, “The Space Between,” has some tunes on it that she recorded in 2008. It is among five CDs available for sale at the performances.
Playing with Kosins at the Harwood Museum of Art is New Mexico jazz pianist John Rangel. Originally from New York City, Rangel has performed in jazz festivals worldwide, including the Inntone Jazz Festival in Austria, the Gene Harris Jazz Festival in Idaho, the Clearwater Jazz Festival in Florida and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands.
“I’ve never worked with John before, so when we get together to rehearse, we’ll decide if we’re going to do a few of my original tunes and which ones we’ll do,” said Kosins. “I’d like to sing a few, but we’ll see what happens.”
If Kosins gets permission from St. John’s College, she hopes to create an abstract acrylic painting from the stage while her backup band plays a tune or two. “On a break or at the end of the performance, I will auction off the painting and donate half of the proceeds to St. John’s College,” she added.