Bull Fonda Duo

The Bull-Fonda Duo

For Tours contact katiebullvox@gmail.com

Artist Information

Katie Bull is a jazz vocalist and multi-media writer/performer living in New York City since birth. LOVE SPOOK is Bull’s second CD to date. Her premiere CD Conversations with the Jokers (with Michael Jefry Stevens, Lou Grassi, Joe Fonda) was released in March 2003 and received excellent critical notices. Conversations was on 12 Top Ten CMJ Radio charts culminating in an invitation to sing at Jazzweek’s kick-off to the Rochester International Jazz Festival, at the Montage.

She has appeared with numerous musicians including 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.

She has sung with her divine mentors—jazz vocalist/composer Jay Clayton, and Jay Clayton’s Voices & and jazz singer Sheila Jordan. Most recently Katie performed with Judi Silvano in her accapella jazz-movement ensemble “Voices Together. Other musicians Katie has worked with include pianist and composer Kirk Nurock in his Natural Sound; and composer Julius Eastman.

Her next CD, The Bull-Fonda Duo: Cup of Joe, No Bull was released in March '05 to stunning critical response and features Joe Fonda on bass; recorded and engineered by David Baker. Her albums are independently produced on the Corn Hill Indie label, distributed by North Country Distributors, and can be purchased on cdbaby.com, and in selected stores.


Katie was born in New York City, and raised in the West Village on McDougal Street, and Westbeth. Her jazz piano playing-dancer father used to let her tag along to gigs and various jam sessions, as well as run around on the edges of the dance floors where he was teaching modern dance at NYU. He also snuck her in to hear extraordinary singers and musicians in various village venues including the Village Vanguard and Folk City, long before she was of legal age! She remembers Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Bill Evans, and Elvin Jones, to name just a few.

Soon, she and her dad moved to Brockport, a small town in upstate New York (way upstate, near Canada). It was there, at the jam sessions in the "parlor" of their home on Adams street that she met numerous extraordinary visiting jazz musicians and composers including percussionist Lou Grassi, to whom she is indebted for his encouragement and support of her career (Lou can be heard on Katie's premiere CD Conversations With the Jokers). As a suburb of Rochester, Brockport was within easy proximity of the Eastman School, where Katie often went to hear great jazz concerts of amazing jazz musicians; a formative moment was watching Keith Jarret improvise on that huge stage in that huge auditorium, and realizing how intimate he was being with the piano and the audience.

She then returned to Tribeca, NYC - Manhattan, (before it was "Tribeca") and lived in a raw loft space with her father and stepmother. She got a regular gig at Walkers at the age of 15, singing standards once a week. At this time she was introduced to jazz singer/composer Jay Clayton, and singer Sheila Jordan, both of whom took her under their nurturing wings. She sat in a bit around town, at such venues as The Tin Palace, Sweet Basils, and Phoebes. The most memorable sitting-in moment was the night Joe Williams sat in at Sheila's gig, and then Sheila let Katie sit in too; Katie sang My Funny Valentine, and Harvie Swartz , on bass, pulled out his bow at the end of the tune -- his sensitivity sent electricity up Katie's spine. It was a moment Katie now recognizes as a defining moment in her life; this is jazz, this is a conversation!

Soon she embarked on her own, attending SUNY Purchase, entering as a music major, exiting from the theater conservatory. It was at SUNY Purchase that Katie met mentor Chuck Jones who's revolutionary work in vocal production for the speaking voice changed her life.

Since graduation Katie has been living in Manhattan. Her focus has been in the hybrid-arts movement, also known as the inter-arts movement. She has written and directed numerous experimental productions with her company the Bull Family Orchestra, and this work has allowed her to integrate her background in music, dance, writing, and directing. She has been vocal coaching the speaking voice, and singing in various downtown experimental theaters. She joins the jazz world now, a newcomer - - coming home.

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 and Joe in session

Katie Bull and Joe Fonda are gracing the reduced member ensemble concept championed by the great singer and teacher Sheila Jordan with effortless offerings that I’m quite sure would please Sheila. The non-essential has been cut away to reveal the heart of the selections. Standards and originals complement each other in a compelling program that focuses on musicality over chops so that the listener is drawn in by the sincerity of their performance. So many want record, so few come in as prepared and ready to improvise. The beauty within shines in the lack of embellishment. This music does not rely on gussied-up complexities, just respect for the song form and the listener. The only difficulty encountered on this session was the task of selecting the takes. It’s an honor to take part in the presentation of this music that bears repeated listening.

David Baker, Master Engineer


Media Alert: Katie Bull/Joe Fonda Cup of Joe, No Bull Bull Fonda Duo | Corn Hill Indie View the article here:
Review Courtesy AllAboutJazz.com
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.

Track Listing: I Could Have Danced All Night; Love Spook; Quiet Night 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.

Bull Fonda Duo
July 07, 8:30 & 10
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.

JAZZREVIEW.com -- 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: http://www.katiebull.com

Reviewed by: Richard Bourcier

ALLABOUTJAZZ.com 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 AllAboutJazz.com
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.

CUP OF JOE, NO BULL AllAboutJazz-NY - July 2005
By Terrell Holmes
On the heels of her release Love Spook, vocalist Katie Bull has hooked up with bass player Joe Fonda on Cup of Joe, No Bull, a selection of standards and originals that the Duo reduced to their bare essentials. Bull sings with a kind of relaxed, languid, yet lively kind of scat singing where the lyrics aren’t sung so much as they burst from inside her. She sometimes wavers on the vocal high wire, but her verge is infectious.
Bull takes a two-pronged approach to the songs. She seems to presume that the listener knows the classics and will fill in the blanks as she scats along; she establishes her originals and the lesser known tunes a little more before stretching them out. Fonda’s right with her on the bass, his pizzicato ranging from light love taps to solar plexus reverb. He even provides diffident background vocals on Shortcut Blues, blues love/driving analogy.
This disc has it’s stand out moments. Fonda’s bass becomes something of a second vocalist on Antonio Carlo Jobim’s Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars, where Bull uses the title to whisper and drop some of the lyrics to under score the meaning of the title. Bluebird of Happiness is bright and optomistic and Fonda is relentless on When You Say You Will, his dymanic playing augmenting Bull’s passionate interpretation of the poignant lyrics. The Duo hits it’s stride on Since I Fell For You, with Bull’s vocals expressing resignation but not anguish. Speak Louder is an example of how Bull and Fonda fill in each other’s spaces ably and on Wonderful World and When I Fall In Love she’s at her best. Using her voice to shade the lyrics and take them just outside of their normal orbit, while reining in the vocal calisthenics.

O’s PLACE NEWSLETTER – 4/4 rating
Katie Bull & Joe Fonda - Cup of Joe, No Bull Fall 2005
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

AllAboutJazz-NY VOX NEWS August 2005 -- By Laurence Donohue Greene
AAJ-NY’s “1’s & 2’s: Music for Solo an d Duo” Concert Series culminated last month with the CD release of Katie Bull and Joe Fonda’s CUP OF JOE, NO BULL (Corn Hill Indie), a smashing success, with the legendary veteran vocalist Jay Clayton among those in attendance.

JAZZ IMPROV Magazine (Free) October 2005
By Joshua Musselwhite
Not to be confused with the educator at Indianna University, this album is dedicated to David Baker, recording engineer. Among the many of Baker’s achievements is his employjment at Vanguard Records as Chief Engineer. In 1998 he was awarded a Grammy for his work with Shirley Horn. Other artists Baker has worked with include Dave Liebman, Maceo Parker, John Scofield, John Zorn, and Sun Ra to name onlly a few. This album was one of his last works.
Katie Bull and Joe Fonda comprise the unique Duo of voice and bass. When they thought of this combination, they certainly had their work cut out for them. Without additional instruments, every moment is fully exposed; there is no guitar, piano, or drums to hide behind. Duos are some of the hardest ensembles to perform in and this group does a wonderful job. To balance the selections, they choose a variety of standards and original compositions. One of the more unique arrangements is this group’s version of I’m Old Fashioned. Perhaps we are all familiar with the version present on Blue Train, but this adaptation is nothing of the sort. At a tempo near 120, it features a walking bass line playing 16th notes. Over top the blazing fast bass Katie changes the melody drastically as she sings the lyrics. At times she scats and pops vocables. It is an astounding rendition.
One unique element that could potentially go unnoticed is the secret track at the end of the album. Following Wonderful World Katie sings a short unaccompanied song, lasting approximately 30 seconds. The bluesy tune is unfamiliar to me, but the lyrics include “conversations in rhythms, that’s you to a tee.” The unexpected song is a nice surprise.
The Bull-Fonda Duo is certainly original and creative. The obstacles to produce such a musical album with the unusual combination of voice and bass are increadible. Thier commitment to the music and group has absolutely paid off, and Cup of Joe, No Bull is a wonderful display of that.

By Andrew Cloninger
This is one of the most unusual Duos I’ve ever heard. They start us off on Broadway and we end up in a back alley, which turns into a loft party. I am not a huge fan of vocal jazz but something in the mix of bass and vocal make this kind of fun to listen to. Maybe it’s something in the air, or maybe just chemistry. They or we will never be able to understand. Joe Fonda is a wonderful bass player who gives this record a much needed center, as Katie Bull weaves in and out – sometimes with scat or songs that she wrote, or classics such as I Could Have Danced All Night, or Wonderful World – to which they give a new vitality. I can’t wait for their next release.