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Tuck and Patti :: Concert at Blue Note Milano, Friday April 21st, 2006
by Eva Simontacchi, Photo by Alberto Gottardelli

Tuck and Patti are back at Blue Note Milano with good news: the release of their new DVD “Tuck & Patti Live in Holland”, which also contains 2 CDs. Their latest albums are “Chocolate Moment” (2002, T&P Records) and “A Gift Of Love” (2004, T&P Records).

The concert opens with “Love Flows Like a River” (Chocolate Moment”, 2002, T&P Records). Patti’s velvety voice couldn’t possibly have a better companion than Tuck’s guitar. Tuck follows her like her very same shadow, creating countermelodies around her phrases and around her sighs, or replies percussively to Patti’s percussive scat singing. The fans in the audience are anxious to greet Tuck and Patti, and the hall is filled with cheers and ovations at the end of the first song. The second piece is “Better Than Anything”. Patti sings her own lyrics, I don’t know if she is improvising them on the spot or not, but it’s exhilarating. Not only can Tuck and Patti reach into your heart and move you to tears; they are also capable of making you smile and have fun. The concert continues with “Rejoice” (Chocolate Moment”), and Patti leaves the stage after this song of hope. Now Tuck is alone with his guitar, and all the lights and all the eyes of the audience are on Tuck and on his remarkably fast and agile fingers. Tuck plays various songs, passing from “Georgia” to “Europa” (Santana) sounding as if there were an entire orchestra of guitars: accompaniment, harmonics, bass line, melody, solos, slap, percussions... Tuck’s fingers jump and run up and down the guitar’s neck and all the way down to the pick-ups at a very high speed. Tuck seems to be totally immersed in his own world while he is playing solo, and we have the chance of meeting his gaze only when he’s trough and raises his eyes to thank the audience for the steady applause and the cheers and ovations he is almost surprised to be hearing. Patti reaches him on stage once more, and sings a very intense ballad: “My Romance” (“As Time Goes By”, 2002, Windham Hill Records), followed by “Hold Me Tight And Don’t Let Go” (“A Gift Of Love”, 2004, T&P Records). The first set is almost through, and Tuck and Patti hint the first notes of “Time After Time”, that their fans know very well because Patti has the habit to invite the audience to sing along with her. She divides the audience in three sections, and teaches them the background vocals to “Time After Time”.The Blue Note’s hall is now filled with the voices of the audience – luckily quite in tune - which also become for a moment, protagonists of this remarkable evening. At the end of this first set the cheers, applause and ovations get even louder, and after various requests for “more”, Tuck and Patti play “Takes My Breath Away” (“The Best Of Tuck And Patti”, 1997, Windham Hill Records) before taking a break.

The second set offers us different hits, such as “Wildflower” (“Chocolate Moment”), that Patti dedicates to all the women; “Comfort Me” (“Chocolate Moment”), “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” (“A Gift Of Love”) and once again “Time After Time”. Tuck remains once again alone on stage and plays “I Wish” (Stevie Wonder) and other very well-known songs that acquire a totally different flavor with his awsome interpretations. The concert ends on the notes of “Love Is The key”, a hypnotic song, in which Patti improvises a great deal with a percussive scat that reminds me of a heart beat.

At the end of the concert the Blue Note’s audience thank Tuck and Patti with a standing ovation.


I meet Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart at the Blue Note’s backstage between the first set and the second set of their concert. Their dinner is in front of them, and it’s getting cold, yet they welcome me with warmth and ever so kindly reply to my questions.

Eva Simontacchi: Your message is so strong, so powerful. How do you “charge your batteries”? How can you be so filled with love and passion every night, and convey all this to your audience keeping the message fresh and so powerful?
Patti Cathcart: I think that the biggest reason, or I know that the reason is because that’s been the one thing we have been saying since we got together, and it’s coming 28 years we relentlessly, all the time, say that message, and we believe it to our souls. And that’s how you get recharged, because there’s not a word that we sing about on stage that we don’t believe deep in our souls. Whatever I sing, if it speaks to my heart, then I can make it speak to your heart.

E.S.: Surely there are moments in which you are going through difficult times, or you might feel frustrated or simply tired. What happens then?
P.C.: It’s the music, the stage that recharges us. That’s the moment that repays us for all our efforts. And every time we play a song, for example “My Romance”, you know? What’s happening tonight? We get one more time to play it. It’s great, there’s no words to describe this.

E.S.: Probably also improvising helps you to stay fresh with ideas. How much of what you do is improvised?
P.C.: It varies. We have a joint commitment to go with spirit, wherever it leads us. That works out to mean different things on different songs. I might change melodies and even lyrics in a song, or add a chorus of solo, while Tuck would freely improvise bass lines and chords, substituing and reharmonizing around me, and varying whatever countermelodies he incorporated, just as any jazz group would do. This is also true of most of the ballads we do, although at times I’ll intentionally leave out a section if it feels right; Tuck typically catches this and goes right with me. On other songs the stucture of some sections might change every night, even seguing into different songs.

For example, the out section of “Tears of Joy” was completely improvised in the studio when we were recording; each take was completely different, with different chords, melody and words. After the album came out, we actually went back and learned what we did on the particular take we decided to use. Many of our songs are like that. When we play live, the same kind of thing will happen. On a given song we might stay with a particular form for a while until one of us goes off in another direction one night, and then that alternative form becomes a new theme variation in the future.

Sometimes we’ll make up an entirely new song on the spot during shows, and this is how “High Heel Blues” and “Love Is The Key” got started. But one result of having albums is that people have more favourite songs than there is time in a show to do them, so this happens less than in the past.

E.S.: (to Tuck) After all these years on stage together, what is your experience like when you are performing?
Tuck Andress: Performing with Patti is like no other experience I have had because it is so intense. The closest thing I’ve experienced is race car video games, when you keep the accelerator floored and life comes at you faster than you can possibly deal with, except that crashing and burning is not an acceptable option and there is no slowing down and catching your breath when you do crash and burn. It is relentlessly this way for an hour and a half. It is like simultaneously being in the eye of the hurricane and in the hurricane itself, except that we are also generating the hurricane rather than passively experiencing it. It seems that there are multiple time scales being experienced all at once. It is remarkable to me that it is possible to experience calmness, peace and joy in the midst of very intense, rapid activity, much of which has to do with disaster avoidance and damage control, but it seems to be the nature of the mind that these can coexist.

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published 12.11.2006 © 2005 jazz news :: home page

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