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" ...a remarkable recording that celebrates the conceptual vision of two musicians who manage to work, and swing, together incredibly well..." NY-Press

"The Bull Fonda Duo:
Cup of Joe, No Bull"

Available at
CD Baby

Katie Bull, vocals
Joe Fonda, bass

I Could Have Danced All Night
Shortcut Blues
I'm Old Fashioned
Midnight Sun



Bull Fonda Duo CD Backcover



In the two years since she has begun recording, Katie Bull has proven herself to be "a force to be reckoned with in vocal jazz.” On her first two Corn Hill Indie albums, Conversations With The Jokers and Love Spook, Bull demonstrated a strong foundation in the music’s tradition, as well as the powerful will and desire to expand it, blending adventurous original material with her own uniquely personal interpretations of classics from the Great American Songbook. Now, on CUP OF JOE, NO BULL, she demonstrates the depth of her commitment to her artistic philosophy, baring her soul in an intimate musical conversation with bassist Joe Fonda, as she continues to combine her own compelling compositions with music from the standard jazz repertoire.

Fonda, best known for his work with Anthony Braxton and Bill Dixon, appeared on Bull’s two previous releases and shares the singer’s interdisciplinary approach to creativity and her forward looking view of jazz. On Conversations With The Jokers the bassist and vocalist recorded two duets – a straight ahead reading of Like Some One In Love and a daring spontaneously improvised collaboration they called See Through You. On this new date they continue exploring the vast potential first displayed on those two contrasting numbers. Expertly recorded by the late great engineer David Baker, CUP OF JOE, NO BULL is a disc of rare intimacy and sincerity.

The date begins appropriately with I Could Have Danced All Night, a fitting metaphor for the duo collaboration. Bull opens with a straightforward reading of the lyric to the Lerner and Lowe classic over Fonda’s melodic bass and follows with a distinctive scatted second chorus revealing the influence of the great Betty Carter. Fonda’s solo displays a beautiful tone and marvelous musicality that understandably inspires the singer’s creativity.

Fonda introduces Love Spook with a one minute twenty second virtuoso solo bass recital and smoothly segues into the ominous bass line of the Bull composition that was the title track of her previous disc. The song’s unabashedly sensual lyric takes on an even more intimate character in the duo setting and the singer reveals the full range of her voice, including a breathy tonality and a stratospheric reading the word “sky” that she transforms into a transcendental chant.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Quiet Night of Quiet Stars (Corcovado) is treated to a romantic reading revealing the emotional depth of Bull’s singing. Fonda’s full toned bass wraps the singer’s sweet intonation in a warm embrace that conjures up the image of two lovers gazing at the celestial beauty of the Brazilian night.

Shortcut Blues is a Bull original that shows her to be an excellent interpreter of the classic American idiom. The lyric, ostensibly about a highway traffic jam, is full of sexual double entendre displays the singer’s appealing sense of humor.

Bull and Fonda take Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern’s I’m Old Fashioned at a breakneck tempo, demonstrating their technical facility with the standard jazz repertoire and a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the title. These two may be old fashioned, but they are also modern and daring as their exciting finish shows.

Monkey Business is a Bull original in the form of a child’s song. She uses the simple line as a springboard for some of the album’s most daring free improvisation

Bull opens Bluebird of Happiness acappella, stretching out the words in long searching legato lines before Fonda joins her and the two go skipping along on their blissful quest. Fonda solos with confidence and Bull scats a chorus in a distinctive style reflecting the influence of her mentors Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan.

When You Say You Will reveals Bull’s ability to make music out of real life situations. The lyric, improvised over Fonda’s original bass line, is constructed from kind of “interrogation” a lover might engage in when questioning a late returning partner.

Bull swings straight ahead on When I Fall In Love, singing the words with a believable sincerity that draws the listener into her world and brings the song to life.

Midnight Sun is one of the great Johnny Mercer’s most beautifully ornate lyrics. Bull takes her time with the words, clearly enunciating them in her most attractive voice, basking in their warmth as Fonda masterfully accompanies her, intoning the changes to the popular Sonny Burke-Lionel Hampton melody.

Bull’s Speak Louder is another original in which she transforms everyday conversation into song. The lyrics to this one come from a didactic discussion with a “little sister” in which she imparts the advice to go slow -- presumably in matters of the heart.

Since I Fell For You kicks off with a reading of the rarely performed verse about “when you just give love and never get love” before launching into the well known lyric. Fonda again reveals his affinity for the blues soulfully accompanying Bull as she delivers one of her most emotional performances of the date.

The date concludes with What A Wonderful World. Bull sings the ode to optimism with a reverential tone that is full of hope and conviction, emphasizing the songs positive message. Fonda, the perfect partner, hangs on her every note, providing the sympathetic support that is key to the success of the whole date.

The vocal-bass configuration is a rare and difficult setting for a singer to sustain for a whole album’s worth of material. On Cup Of Joe, No Bull Katie Bull and Joe Fonda show that they have the immense talent and vision it takes to make it work. Presenting a wide range of material with a variety of approaches these two creative spirits come together and make it seem natural.



June 28, 2005

Media Alert: Katie Bull/Joe Fonda Cup of Joe, No Bull Bull Fonda Duo | Corn Hill Indie

View the article here:

Review Courtesy

Cup of Joe, No Bull
Bull Fonda Duo | Corn Hill Indie

By C. Michael Bailey

In a very effective jazz arranging technique for introductions, the vocalist starts a capella and the bass enters immediately. The two duet with one another for a chorus, at which time the whole ensemble joins the fray. This is a nice touch, adding a bit of tension and expectation to the natural swing of a piece. Cup of Joe, No Bull is an entire recording of this sort of bass-voice tension. It works, for the most part. The straightahead pieces like the opening “I Could Have Danced All Night” and the closing “Wonderful World” do come off well. The more rhythmically experimental pieces like “Love Spook” and “Shortcut Blues” offer a bit of a challenge. But with Katie Bull and Joe Fonda, that is what we should expect.

Bull’s previous recordings, Love Spook and Conversations with the Jokers, both featuring Fonda, were well received in these pages, both displaying Bull’s wicked wit and range. When stripped down to a duo with the bassist, composer, and arranger, anything can and does happen. Capable of playing it straight, Fonda is most comfortable on the alpha edge of music, as demonstrated on his sides with Anthon Braxton, particular The Charlie Parker Project 1994. The duo makes a difficult format work well enough to be provocative and compelling.

New article on the NY Press, previewing The Bull Fonda Duo at Cornelia Street Cafe in NY.

Bull Fonda Duo
July 07, 8:30 & 10

By Ernest Barteldes

Vocalist Katie Bull and bassist Joe Fonda have chosen a minimalist approach for their third collaboration, Cup of Joe, No Bull (Corn Hill Indie), by recording an entire album featuring only Fonda’s bass as accompaniment to Bull’s voice. “The bass is an instrument I love,” said Katie Bull in a recent phone interview. The concept was born while they were working on an earlier project, and decided to jam it out without waiting on classifieds to beef up their lineup. That session developed into an entire album, which bears some very personal takes on standards such as “I Could Have Danced All Night” (from My Fair Lady), Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars,” and some lesser-known jazz songs that have touched the duo, alongside a few original compositions. Katie Bull and Joe Fonda met in 1999, and recorded together for the first time in the summer of 2001. “We were working in a dance situation at the time, and we developed the relationship. We did some voice movement, and some playful, unplanned interaction, and that’s how it’s been,” said Bull. Whatever. Their music is much more listenable. “A song can be overdone,” she tried to explain, and with that in mind, they approached each cut as if it was their own original. As a result, Heyman/Young’s “When I Fall In Love” (made famous by Nat King Cole) sounds completely spring-fresh, as does the under-recorded Johnny Mercer masterpiece “I’m Old-Fashioned.” “These older tunes are gems,” says Bull. “Joe is so wide open, that anything comes new.” The only thing on the album even mildly cringe-inducing is their version of the Weiss/Douglas “It’s a Wonderful World,” the oft-remade Louis Armstrong hit. Although their rendition sounds sincere enough, the song has just been K-martized too much. Like Soul on Aisle 12. That is, however, a minor blemish on a remarkable recording that celebrates the conceptual vision of two musicians who manage to work, and swing, together incredibly well.

Cornelia St. Cafe, 29 Cornelia St. (6th Ave.), 212-989-9318; 8:30 & 10, $12

July 17, 2005

Media Alert: Katie Bull/Joe Fonda Cup of Joe, No Bull Bull Fonda Duo | Corn Hill Indie

View the article here:

Featured Artist: The Bull - Fonda Duo
CD Title: Cup Of Joe, No Bull
Year: 2005
Record Label: Corn Hill Indie
Style: Jazz Vocals
Musicians: Katie Bull (vocals); Joe Fonda (bass).

Review: The late tenor Jan Peerce would probably disapprove of Katie Bull’s treatment of his 1948 semi-classical hit. On the other hand, jazz aficionados will applaud loudly. Bull sings “Bluebird Of Happiness” as if it had never been performed before. What a breath of fresh air!

The New Yorker is releasing her third CD this month following closely behind her successful and critic stunning Love Spook. Bassist Joe Fonda was at the core of both previous projects Love Spook and Conversations With The Jokers. Like the singer, Fonda is an intense and resourceful musician. It seemed inevitable that the pair were destined to work in a duo format. A voice/bass duo isn’t the easiest combination to manage as there is little margin for error. The Canadian duo of Karen Young & Michele Donato had a similar act back in the 1980s and turned out some memorable music. The Canadians performed primarily original material but Bull & Fonda dare to record items like “I’m Old Fashioned” and “I Could Have Danced All Night”, songs that, for decades, are firmly set in audiences’ minds. Even Bob Thiele’s venerable “What A Wonderful World” gets a new look.

Three Katie Bull originals appear in the form of “Shortcut Blues”, “Monkey Business” and “Speak Louder.” To my delight, Bull’s “Love Spook” from her previous album shows up again by the duo. It’s an astonishing performance with Bull exhibiting her enviable vocal range and control.

Katie Bull and Joe Fonda are delightfully different and worth a listen. It’s as daring a performance as you’ll ever hear.

Tracks: I Could Have Danced All Night; Love Spook; Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars (Corcovado); Shortcut Blues; I’m Old Fashioned; Monkey Business; Bluebird Of Happiness; When You Say You Will; When I Fall In Love; Midnight Sun; Speak Louder; Since I Fell For You; Wonderful World.

Artist's Website:

Reviewed by: Richard Bourcier


July 20, 2005

Media Alert: Katie Bull/Joe Fonda Cup of Joe, No Bull Bull Fonda Duo | Corn Hill Indie

View the article here:

Review Courtesy

Cup of Joe, No Bull
Bull Fonda Duo | Corn Hill Indie
By Michael P. Gladstone

This is the third Katie Bull album that I've heard, and her work is very consistent. The New York-based singer divides her time between traditional jazz vocals and outside vocal excursions. This is the sparest of the sessions in that it is a duo recording of just voice and acoustic bass, without the added cushion of piano and drums. According to the liner notes, Katie Bull's partner, bassist Joe Fonda, is a like-minded soulmate who shares the same sense of improvisation and exploration. Fonda was present on the previous Bull albums and worked in the recent past with avant garde musicians like Anthony Braxton.

One could generalize by saying that the eight standards on the album are taken in a mainstream fashion while the five Bull originals are employed as free jazz vocals. Katie Bull's direct approach on such tunes as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “When I Fall in Love,” and “Since I Fell For You” is really quite good. “Bluebird of Happiness,” a favorite of Betty Carter, is given a similar reading. “Midnight Sun” is taken way uptempo much as a tenor sax player might perform it to close the first set.

I've noted in the past that Katie Bull seems most influenced by the style of Sheila Jordan, and that is indeed still present. On her originals, beginning with “Love Spook” (also the title of her last album), the quirky lyrics serve as a springboard for her imagination, which seems matched by Fonda's accompaniment and solos. “Monkey Business,” styled as a children's song, offers an opportunity to take the music out a bit further.

Track Listing: I Could Have Danced All Night, Love Spook, Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars, Shortcut Blues, I'm Old Fashioned, Monkey Business, Bluebird Of Happiness, When You Say You Will, When I Fall In Love, Midnight Sun, Speak Louder, Since I Fell For You, Wonderful World.

Personnel: Katie Bull, vocals; Joe Fonda, bass.


Katie Bull & Joe Fonda - Cup of Joe, No Bull 4/4

O's Notes: Katie (vocals) and Joe (bass) team up and keep it simple, clear and focused playing a mix of standards and originals. This approach requires courage and talent. They are not short in either area and they sparkle as a duo. Not happy taking a simple path, they stretch out with unique arrangements and an abundance of improvisation. It is plausible from many aspects with very good audio quality.

D. Oscar Groomes
O's Place Jazz Newsletter
P.O. Box 2437
Naperville, IL 60567-2437

JOE FONDA is a composer, bassist, recording artist, interdisciplinary performer, and producer. An accomplished international Jazz artist, Fonda has performed with his own ensembles throughout the United States and Europe, and as a side man with Archie Shepp, Ken McIntyre, Lou Donaldson, Bill and Kenny Barron, Leo Smith, Perry Robinson, Dave Douglas, Curtis Fuller, Mark Whitecage, Marion Brown, and Bill Dixon. Fonda was the bassist with the renowned Anthony Braxton sextet, octet, tentet, from 1984 through 1999. Fonda also sat on the Board of Directors from 1994 to 1999, and was the President from 1997 to 1999 of the newly formed Tri-Centric Foundation. He has also performed with the 38-piece Tri-Centric orchestra under the direction of Anthony Braxton, and was the bassist for the premiere performance of Anthony Braxton’s opera, Shalla Fears for the Poor, performed at the John Jay theater in New York, New York, October 1996. As a composer, Fonda has been the recipient of numerous grants and commissions and has released eight recordings under his own name. Fonda was also a member of The Creative Musicians Improvisors Forum directed by Leo Smith, and was the bassist with the American Tap Dance Orchestra in New York City, directed by world renowned tap dancer, Brenda Bufalino. In 1989, Fonda performed with Fred Ho’s Jazz and Peking Opera in its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. From 1982 to 1986 Fonda was the bassist and dancer with the Sonomama Dance Company. An independent producer since 1978, Fonda is the founding director of Kaleidoscope Arts and interdisciplinary performance ensemble. Currently Fonda has been recording and touring extensively with the Fonda-Stevens Group. They have released five CDs and have had seven European tours since 1997, with performances at the Bim huis in Amsterdam, Holland, the Prague Jazz Festival, Czech Republic, the Jazz Halo Festival, Belgium, and Jazz Festival Thurinsen, Weimer, Germany. Three of Fonda’s most recent projects are From the Source, Conference Call and the FAB Trio. From the Source is a group that incorporates the tap dancing and poetry of Brenda Bufalino and the healing arts of Vicki Dodd, and four jazz musicians. The group has released their first CD entitled, Joe Fonda and From the Source, on Konnex Records. Conference Call is a quartet, featuring drummers, Han Benik and Matt Wilson, with pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, and bassist Joe Fonda. Conference Call has released two CDs, one on Soul Note, Final Answer and one on Leo Records, Variations on a Master Plan. The FAB Trio, featuring Joe Fonda, Barry Altschul, and Billy Bang, has just released its first CD, Transforming the Space, on CIMP Records. “The FAB Trio serenades us with their maturity, their honesty and longevity found in their many years of individual performances,” describes Kunle Mwanga, “they continue to be fresh and in the avant-garde of the music scene.”

KATIE BULL is a jazz vocalist and multi-media performer living in New York City since birth. She has sung with her divine mentors—jazz vocalist/composer Jay Clayton, & Jay Clayton’s Voices and jazz singer Sheila Jordan; pianist and composer Kirk Nurock in his Natural Sound; composer Julius Eastman; pianists Michael Jefry Stevens, Frank Kimbrough, and Joshua Wolf; percussionists Lou Grassi, Matt Wilson, Harvey Sorgen, George Schuller, and Jon Wikan; and bass players Joe Fonda, Martin Wind, and Cameron Brown. Her premiere CD Conversations with the Jokers (with Michael Jefry Stevens/piano; Lou Grassi/percussion; Joe Fonda/bass) was released in March 2003. Her second CD, Love Spook (Matt Wilson, Frank Kimbrough, Martin Wind, Michael Jefry Stevens, & Joe Fonda), will be released in March 2005 . Her albums are independently produced on the Corn Hill Indie Label; distributed by North Coutntry Distributors; and can be purchased on, and in selected stores. Katie is also a writer, inter-arts performer, and founder of The Bull Family Orchestra, integrating dance, spoken text, and music. The most recent BFO project, The 29 Questions Project, (writers Hillary Rollins & Bull) was published in The 2005 Plays and Playwrights Anthology by Martin Denton, NYTE Inc. and is available at Barnes & Nobles and on For the project Katie collaborated with jazz singer/composer Ayelete Rose Gottleib, and oud player/composer Yoel Ben Simhon.

DAVID BAKER (Engineer) was a Grammy Award winning audio engineer and producer of over 2,000 recordings. His credits, too numerous to mention in their entirety, include recordings for EMC, Enja, Blue Note, Atlantic, Sony, Verve, Black Saint/Soul Note, MaxJazz, Universal/Polygram among other record labels. Mr. Baker’s long term working relationship with Shirley Horne earned him a Grammy in 1998 for recording I Remember Miles for Verve. He has also worked with a wide variety of artists including Will Boulware, Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach, Paul Bley, Al DiMeola, Art Farmer, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Maria Schneider, George Russell, Maceo Parker, Bruce Barth, John Scofield, John Zorn, Sun Ra and numerous others. From 1973 to 1975 he was the Chief Engineer for Vanguard Records, during which time he established a relationship with many Japanese engineers and producers including Yoshihiro Suzuki (for Philips/Eastwind label) and Yashohachi Itoh, of Sony records. His working relationship with Itoh remained strong right up to Mr. Baker’s death. After 1975 Mr. Baker worked primarily as a free-lance engineer until 1986 when he began remastering the entire Vanguard Classics catalog for re-release on CD. Most recently, Mr. Baker applied his years of live recording experience to doing archival recordings for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2003/04 Season, including performances by The Dave Brubeck Octet and Toots Thielemans. Record production quality at the source was Mr. Baker’s recording principle. His discography spans 40 years covering all genres of music, which took him all over the world. Mr. Baker was one of the masters of the art of recording. He consistently demanded and always achieved an exceptional level of quality.
—Kirk Imamura, Avatar


Duos Project


David Baker (1945–2004)

How can there be a world without “Baker”?

David put Joe and I in the same room to record, not in separate boxes.

He brought his divine ear into the intimacy. He put his golden fingers on the level-dials to channel the dynamics, a consummate player, capturing nuance. David recommended his long time collaborator Katsuhiko Naito for Mastering, and offered to stop by the mastering session briefly to advise me on the running-order. He stayed for seven hours.

We sat and listened, and there were chances for us to talk on breaks. Somehow, at one point, we were talking about death. I told him that I was less scared of death since my stepmother and father had died of cancer; their deaths—one beautiful, one brutal—had taught me about the transformative nature of the soul, like a birth of energy into the Invisible. He liked this and asked about the energy. I said I had witnessed a beautiful light, and imagined the vast connection of that light, ever present, always somewhere. He talked about the death of his parents when he was a child and how profoundly that had changed him. He said he could still feel their presence sometimes—their “light”.

Joe and I are honored to have been part of one of David’s last projects.

We miss him.

And yet, we can still feel him.

David Baker shines.


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