Patti Wicks has a single malt voice and a Basie brevity in her pianism. Slipping under the MaxJazz radar, Wicks traveled to Italy to record with a native rhythm section of bassist Giovanni Sanguineti and drummer Giovanni Gullino. She was joined by the fine alto saxophonist Claudio Chiara, who provided tasty obbligato, comping, and solos to the swinging mainstream of the eight pieces on this release.
Wicks' previous recording, Love Locked Out, featured the pianist/vocalist in a trio setting. The singer specializes in those sardonic ballads that hint at veiled experience, almost world-weary in tone. That would apply to the opener of Basic Feeling, "It Could Happen to You. The song begins with a sprite swinging introduction and then that voice, that voice, comes in. Wicks has the lowest alto in jazz (with, perhaps, the exception of her friend and fellow vocalist Rebecca Parris). Certain voices, when put into motion, immediately take command and let the listener know who is in charge.
Things are no different as Wicks trades the States for all things Italian. She swings her way through some carefully selected pieces from the American Songbook, peppered with some Jobim and an original piece. "It Could Happen to You and "Star Eyes aurally wink at the listener with their coy knowledge. "Like Someone in Love and "Whisper Not are skillfully presented, Wicks in total control. Her piano is tasteful and tuneful, not given to wild flights but always making her point clear. Claudio Chiara's alto perfectly augments the vocalist's no-nonsense approach to music and performance. His tone is light and full, slightly opaque with an even finish. Not Art Pepper and not Paul Desmond, but somewhere in between.
Patti Wicks is a talent, who while not unknown, should be much better known. Love Locked Out is an excellent introduction and Basic Feeling is a super followup, but I suspect that Wicks stands on the cusp of really breaking out. As she should be.
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