Monday, March 16, 2015

Joanne Tatham: Out of My Dreams

Cafe Pacific Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Out of My Dreams

Months have passed since I’ve been able to review a truly excellent female vocalist, and even longer since I found somebody backed up by equally excellent musicians. Well, today’s the day.

Joanne Tatham is the main attraction, and she’s supported by primo artists such as pianists Tamir Hendelmen and Jamieson Trotter; bassists John Clayton and Lyman Medeiros; guitarist Marcel Carmargo; saxman Bob Sheppard; and drummers Peter Erskine and Mike Shapiro. The combo sizes, depending on the track, range from simply the guitarist to trios and quartets.

Tatham is new to me, but not to New York or Los Angeles; this is her third album. She began her career as a Broadway musical comedy performer, then moved to L.A. Her voice is simultaneously lush and swinging; every note is precisely on key, and her transitions from one note to the next are soft and swinging. 

As one example, in the opening chorus of “You Taught My Heart to Swing,” she joins the instrumental line so perfectly that it takes several seconds to realize her voice is part of the phrasing. And wow, what a voice!

I’m also impressed by Tatham’s set list. These aren’t tunes commonly associated with the Great American Songbook, but much of them still sounds familiar ... not surprising, considering her Broadway background.

Example include Harry Nilsson’s “Without Him (Her)”; Bob Dorough’s “Devil May Care”; Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story,” also heard on TV’s “Fat Albert”; the jazz standard “Detour Ahead”; “Cool,” from “West Side Story”; and the title tune, from the musical “Oklahoma!” They’re all marvelous.

This is a stunning album. I’m eager for more, and I hope that Tatham will be blessed once again with a similarly talented cadre of musicians.

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