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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love as a Journey

Happy Birthday, Kris!

          Now on to business:  You are listening to Allison Adams Tucker.  Lady Bonnie and I had the great good fortune to attend her Valentine's Day concert at the Saville Theater, part of our local jazz station's Jazz Live Series.  This is something to catch, and even if you don't live around San Diego, the concerts stream live around the world on the website.  That's for you to enjoy later; this is for you to learn about now:

          This beautiful young lady put on a show for Love's Holiday that totally belied her obviously tender years.  She presented love as a journey, from the searing incandescence of its opening days, moving on to the "game" phase, when you don't want to expose yourself too much (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, probably best known as the theme song of the British sitcom, Couplings), and describing phase after phase in beautiful musical selections, right through to the point where the beloved is no longer there, and all there is left are the cherished memories, set off by familiar places and remembered songs.  She included in her fabulous show her own composition entitled You Got Me, the song she wrote to sing to her husband at their wedding.  The girl truly left it all out on the stage!

          And what a lot there was to leave!  I have long been a fan of "torchy" women, meaning those who sing about all the facets of love, good and bad.  Women who focus on love songs are known for their sad, smoky voices, like honey with a shot of bourbon.  They run the range of names from Diana Krall to Julie London.  The Uppity Blues Women took the course of blaming the men and making them the butt of their jokes, but they remain gravelly, earthy vocalists, denizens of the road house, even if you see them at Wolftrap.

          I for one never would have associated a middle-to-high pitched woman's voice with love songs, but brother, was I wrong.  Allison has a voice that straddles the mezzo- to alto-soprano range, and it is crystal clear, each note being presented like a finely cut stone, free of distracting harmonics and overtones.  She has power in abundance.  When the music calls for her to soar, she soars.  Sitting in the audience, I couldn't shake the feeling that if she really cut loose, she would damage the building.  I have no doubt that, with a few different choices, she could have been a great opera singer.  Man, am I glad she didn't!

          Her band members have been with her for at least three years, and ranging up to I think she said five.  Her pianist, Danny Green, is a lyrical player, adept at showing his virtuosity and simultaneously putting that fabulous voice on display without ever challenging her for leadership.  Mike Holguin, the drummer, carried the backbeat with quiet cymbals and deft brush strokes, never obtrusive, never overriding the music, but when he was given his chances to shine, boy did he ever!  The man could play with Aerosmith.  Bassist Evona Wascinski played standup and bass guitar with equal aplomb, a true technician, always reaching for the right tool to do the perfect job.  I must admit to a lack of the sort of training that would make me a professional critic of any level of credibility, and we have seen quite a few of these bands supporting a standout leader during these shows.  Each of them has their own points to recommend them, and I wouldn't begin to try to say that this one is better than that one.  I'll just say this one was pretty darned good at what they were here to do!

          One of the station's DJ's said yesterday that she would sing about love in five languages.  She did.  They were English, French, Italian, Spanish, and a lot of Portugese, which probably constituted half the program, as she has an especial love for Brazilian jazz.  I do too.  My focus has long been on the Big Two, Jobim and Gilberto, but she introduced songs by people I had never known of before.  I love finding out that something I have always enjoyed is actually deeper and richer than I ever thought it was.  Bravo, Allison, bravo!

          Am I gushing?  Let me explain something right here.  First of all, I only review artists that I enjoy.  It does neither me nor them any good for me to use my tiny little soapbox to trash someone's hard work; mostly, it makes me look like a small-minded dork.  Second, when a performer is good, I let it all out, because I want you, my readers, to experience their art, and if I can bring them an album sale or two, I'm happy to do it.  Third, this girl is the real deal.  Am I gushing?  In her case, I cannot possibly gush enough.

          She has at this point only the one album out, Come With Me.  I highly recommend accepting her invitation.  I honestly don't know how to put the right words together to describe her powerful, subtle voice.  I am hard-put to come up with an allegory.  Maybe a forty-horse chainsaw in the hands of a master sculptor.  She has all the power and volume that any vocalist could hope to be blessed with, and yet with the fine control needed to nuance a gasp, to express a gamut of emotions in a sigh.  Her debut album contains a range of selections, from such old standards as I've Got the World on a String, My Funny Valentine, and You Belong to Me, through her foreign language covers, like La Vie En Rose, Volver, and O Barquinho, to her own beautiful You Got Me.  If you have a love of talented women singing songs about the loves they've won and lost, you owe yourself a ride with this incredibly talented young lady.  Don't take my word for it.  You're hearing her right now.  You can sample more of her work on YouTube and  Do it.  Chances are that you'll become her latest fan.

          Thanks, Allison, for giving up time out of your life to enrich ours; we had a blast!

          A footnote to the concert:  Chuao Chocolatier of University Town Center, Del Mar, and Encinitas gave away samples of The Love Child at the door.  This is a specialty confection consisting of dried strawberries soaked in port wine, and sealed in dark chocolate.  Quite the treat, I must say, and if that piques your interest, you'll find them at  Buy some bigger pants, and call in your order.  They'll go great with your new Allison Adams Tucker CD!

Hideout Happenings

          Not much to report "off the grid" this time.  It turns out I hadn't heard from Chops because he has experienced some personal misfortune that he has had to deal with.  I'm not going to air his business here.  If he chooses to comment here, or at his Irish Navy site, that's up to him.  I'll just say he's okay, and it was heartening to hear from him again.  Our steampunk project is no closer to fruition than it was when events took over.  I'm still wrangling with this, and should I get the upper hand, readers of the Hideout will be the first to know!

          Okay, that's thirty for tonight.  I'll see you when I see you.  Keep safe, look out for one another, and above all, Get out there and live life like you mean it!

          - Jack          


  1. JACK,


    1. Au contraire, mon frere! Thanks to you for taking a minute to say hello. It's actually what I do this for. Now, back to your beer...