By Don Heckman
Hollywood, CA The first thought that came to mind during Tuck & Patti’s opening set at Catalina Bar & Grill Friday night was a sense of wonder.
Wonder over the magical music that these two gifted performers were presenting. And wonder over the fact that they perform so rarely here in Los Angeles. (Fortunately, listeners in search of quality music still have tonight’s performance to hear them in action at Catalina’s.)
The first time I wrote about guitarist Tuck and singer Patti was for the Los Angeles Times in the late ‘80s. I mentioned the rich, far-ranging qualities of Patti’s imaginative vocalizing, the full-bodied, almost-orchestral accompaniment of Tuck’s guitar, and the lovingly intimate musical exchanges between the duo. (They began performing together in 1981, and were married in 1983.)
I made similar comments about other appearances of theirs over the next two decades, and I could make exactly the same comments for this performance. But there was more.
Patti’s vocals were sung with the multi-layered expressiveness of a true musical story-teller. Soaring across her wide range, singing with subtle shades of coloration, she was particularly gripping with ballads such as “I Remember You,” “Time After Time” and “My Romance.” The latter, introduced as the first song they did together, was especially effective, with Patti finding new life in every phrase of Larry Hart’s arching lyrics. Add to that her ebullient scatting on tunes such as “Better Than Anything.”
Patti was also an engaging personality between songs, offering one whimsical anecdote after another, including a particularly humorous tale about shoes. And bringing her enthusiastic listeners into some singalong responses as well.
Tuck’s guitar accompaniment was as dexterous as always, his fast fingers triggering one irresistible rhythm pattern after another. A supercharged musical engine driving voice, instrument and song forward with body-moving propulsion.
In his solo passages he did it all on his own. Generating a broad array of sounds from his guitar, he was a six-string magician, offering a virtual seminar on the instrument’s expressive capabilities.
Ultimately, of course, it was the imaginative interfacing taking place between these two superb artists that was the soul of the performance. Talented and unique as they are individually, they are even more than that as a pair. And as they finished their illuminated program of songs, one could only hope that they’ll make more frequent appearances in the Southland. (Remember, they’ll be at Catalina’s tonight, finishing up their three night run.)
* * * * * * * *
Photos by Faith Frenz.