You Go to My Head
Patricia Dean and the legendary Grady Tate are among the few artists in the history of jazz who play drums and sing, and who do both at an exceptional level. Patricia Dean is no mere 'singing drummer' or 'drumming singer'. As a drummer she's an inspiring and supremely tasteful time keeper, accompanist, and soloist. As a jazz vocalist, Dean is swinging, sensitive, and quite simply, just wonderfully musical. This Tampa, Florida native was literally and figuratively surrounded by music while growing up. Her father, formerly lead alto saxophonist on the famed 'Sherwood's Forest' recording by Bobby Sherwood, was also a talented composer, clarinetist, and pianist. Her older brother, an accomplished bassist was already playing in youth orchestras and backing up name acts while still in high school. But what led Patricia to seriously consider a career in music was none other than the singer/drummer Karen Carpenter. Dean went through her 'banging on pots and pans stage' while playing with The Carpenter's records, finally got an actual drum set, began studying privately, and played her first professional gig at the age of 14. Along the way she listened and listened. She sites Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn and Julie London as among her singing influences. Careful listeners may hear some overtones of Dinah Washington, who of course, greatlly influenced Nancy Wilson and Duke Ellington's Betty Roche. Indeed, Dean's version of 'Take the 'A' Train' recalls the memorable Roche/Ellington recording of that song in 1952. What is so special about Dean's singing is that she is equally skilled and convincingas a heartfelt ballad singer, swinging scatter, and evocative interpreter of Braziian melodies. That's rare. In terms of drumming, Dean names Ed Thigpen, Sonny Payne, Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette as some of the percussionists she listened carefully to. Dean has taken the best of what these players represent and combined them to forge her own, unique identity. Above all, no matter what the style or the song, 'taste' is at the forefront. Pianist Stu Shelton is technically astounding, to be sure, but he's a player who never let's his chops get in the way of what a jazz pianist and accompanist for a singer is supposed to do: swing and support the vocalist in that order. Bassist Rick Doll is a versatile and in demand player who is at home playing virtually any style of music. Guest artist Bob Zottola, who plays trumpet on the gorgeous ballad 'You Go To My Head', was a first call New York city session player who backed everyone from Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra to Chick Corea and Maynard Ferguson. Highpoints abound in this satisfying and well paced set. Dean's song selection is an eclectic one. Some of these compositions, particularly the minor themed 'Beautiful Love', the lilting bossa nova of 'Little Boat', and the emotional ballad 'Everytime We Say Goodbye', are just not heard very often these days. And they should be. Some others are heard in refreshing hew settings, specifically 'The Lamp is Low' recast with a Brazilian rhythm, and a vocal version of 'If I Were A Bell', most often played as an instrumental. 'Stew's Blues' is the only instrumental of the set, featuring Shelton, Doll and the marvelous drumming of the leader, in some tasty and intelligent exchanges with Shelton. Through the years Dean has worked with any number of jazz legends, including Nat Adderley, Ira Sullivan, Bobby Militello and the late John LaPorta who once remarked about Dean, '...her two and four is so deep'. There is, in fact, great depth and beauty, and some joyous swinging to be heard on every track on this recording. Bruce Klauber, D., Mus.