What is it our hearts tell us about the enduring magic of a popular song? It is just music and lyrics written and sung once upon a time, but we are captivated from the first time we hear it. We can be cruising along just fine - on a windswept highway, down a bright city street, along a mountain path or ocean drive, just living life day to day - when the old familiar strains come on the radio. Suddenly we find ourselves somewhere else in time: dancing at the senior prom with our first love, kissing on a pier beneath the stars with the love of our life, running wild on sunny beaches through an endless summer day. The song and the singer transport us, and as hard as we try to resist, a lump fills our throats, the unique blend of intense joy and deepening melancholy lingering far beyond the final notes.
Tuck & Patti know this power well, creating new and cleverly conceived twists on a wide variety of jazz and popular standards during their extraordinary recording career. Relying solely on the combined textures of his guitar virtuosity and her extraordinarily soulful voice, the husband and wife duo has taken some of the great heart-tuggers of all time to new, inspiring levels. They began with a sparse, charmingly elegant arrangement of Rodgers & Hart's "My Romance" on their 1988 Windham Hill debut Tears of Joy. If some of their fans can now recall falling in love to the "Tuck & Patti-ized" versions of any of these songs, it is hardly surprising. Their perfect rendering of musical romance is a natural extension of their own two-decade-long love affair with both their music and one other.
So identified are Tuck & Patti with their wonderful mix on each recording of beautiful new songs and timeless standards, that 2000's Taking the Long Way Home - their first recording featuring all original material - took some fans by surprise. But as Patti recalls, "We started going through a bunch of sheet music and listening to countless classic jazz recordings of standards by other artists. Every surface of our kitchen was literally covered with songbooks, compilations and anthologies. Then I thought, hey, wait a minute, I want to write my own standards!"
It is hard to predict whether, years from now, artists will be clamoring to do new interpretations of the many fine Tuck & Patti originals, but there is no doubt that whatever enduring appeal we find in those songs was inspired by the songs of the masters the duo covers so lovingly. As Time Goes By: The Standards features eleven vocals and one instrumental from their five previous Windham Hill recordings, as well as three instrumental tunes from Tuck's 1990 solo album Reckless Precision. The collection opens with a whimsical, strutting take on Bob Dorough's "I've Got Just About Everything," then eases into a dreamy, meditative atmosphere on the Gershwins' "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Such exhilarating moodswings define the Tuck & Patti experience throughout the disc.
The swinging "Better Than Anything" offers both an exciting lyrical litany of jazz and television history as well as a showcase for Patti's amazing ability to turn her voice into a percussion instrument. After thoughtful reflections on "Stella By Starlight" and a soft, almost whispery arrangement of "As Time Goes By," the duo gives "On a Clear Day" a wild, optimistic, traditional jazz improvisational twist, complete with Patti's trademark infectious scatting energies. "When We're Alone" continues on the gentle romantic track, while Tuck's mindblowing solo guitar expansion of "Up and At It" both approximates Wes Montgomery's original crisp guitar lines and takes the jazz classic to a new level of virtuosity. Patti makes her own aforementioned bid at "standard making" with the playful rhythms and moonswept images of the title track from "Taking The Long Way Home" before returning to the catalogs of Rodgers & Hart (a heart tugging "My Romance") and legendary jazz pianist Horace Silver (the plucky, heavily improvisational "Togetherness"). Tuck's emotional diversity as a guitarist comes across perfectly on the next two tunes, an angelic solo version of "Body & Soul" and the optimistic, upbeat blues cool of Dan Hicks' "Walkin' One and Only," which finds Patti gleefully putting her fantasy lover on a pedestal. After Tuck's colorful samba arrangement of Luiz Bonf‡'s "Manh‹ de Carnaval," the set closes with Patti turning The Beatles' "I Will" from a folksy singalong to a genuine, heartfelt vow of love.
Love, optimism, joy, high spirits and those occasional subtle pangs of sorrow define the one of a kind Tuck & Patti experience. As Time Goes By: The Standards invites us to partake of a truly unique phenomenon: songs you've heard hundreds of times re-crafted in such a way that you feel you're hearing them again for the first time. Familiar pieces of our musical culture presented to your heart from a road they've never traveled before, beckoning you to come along. You will hear the strains and find your soul at full attention. Then again, this is Tuck & Patti. All it takes is the guitar and the voice. The fundamental things still apply.
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