For nearly three decades, this unique vocal/guitar jazz duo has cast its passionate musical spell worldwide, capturing the hearts of lovers, the respect of jazz buffs, and the jaw-dropping awe of guitarists.
With 29 years of performing together, and 26 years of marriage, the devotion forged by this extraordinary couple shows no sign of dimming from the pressure of familiarity. For them, this pressure creates more diamond than dust. Their instinct for refining their music, their technique and their career"their home studio makeover"their house and garden renovation"never wavers from their credo: It's not done if it's not from the heart. And what comes from the heart demands excellence.
Onstage and off, guitarist Tuck Andress and vocalist/arranger Patti Cathcart might, at first impression, strike you as an odd couple. The obvious difference in skin color is quickly overshadowed by the contrast of their personalities. Patti exudes the soft, centered yet powerful graciousness of a gospel singer; Tuck almost wears his brain on his skin, anticipating the thousands of musical decisions he'll have to send to his ten fingers during the course of a performance. Seeing the virtuosity and complexity of Tuck's guitar work, most are surprised to learn that Patti is the actual writer, arranger, and producer. Without even blinking, Tuck-the-problem-solver brags, "Patti writes and arranges; I am just the orchestra."
Beneath these layers, however, one hits shared bedrock, from the depth and extent of their musical training to their get-the-job-done focus to their absolute bond of partnership. Their time apart feeds their moments together. "When we're not actually recording an album," says Patti, "I am singing notes into my little recorder to give to Tuck once we get started."
Meanwhile, Tuck might update their database and website. For I Remember You, Tuck worked out parts drawn from a Count Basie recording, then painstakingly figured a way to play all the parts on his guitar. "We might not even use any of it," says Tuck, "You can't do it all at once, just on one guitar. But as a way to explore it, I would try to do it all at once. We hope we are suggesting it somehow."
But Tuck points out that it would be a mistake to too narrowly cast himself as the virtuoso and Patti as the expressive heart and motivator of the duo. "Flying fingers don't impress me much anymore. I'm much more interested in what I call 'soft virtuosity,' where the technique is usually invisible. It's micro-technique, where the subtleties are controlled, and that's where the heart of the music lies. Singers hopefully don't have visibly flying anything, so it's all about 'soft virtuosity.'