I can think of few things more mesmerizing than a Tuck & Patti concert. The jazzy pop stylings of this husband and wife guitar/vocal duo left this audience breathless. With nothing but Tuck's 1949 L5 and Patti's golden-throated voice, they generated soft yet awestruck utterances from their fans similar to the "oohs" and "ahhs" you hear at a 4th of July fireworks display.
Benson Hall was a wonderful venue for this show, a modern structure with immense wood beams and excellent acoustics. Throughout the show, Tuck takes his cues from Patti, frequently looking to his left at her as she determines the pace. They began with "When We're Alone" from their new Windham Hill CD Paradise Found. It's actually a re-worked version of "Joy Spring," with some great scat singing (legally they had to give the song a new name because the lyrics were changed). Also from the new CD, they performed the simplistic and beautiful Beatles classic "I Will" and a song that Patti wrote after an airport conversation with Carlos Santana, "Forgiveness."
Next, Tuck went into another world on the jazz standard "My Romance." As is often the case with Tuck's playing, it was hard to believe it was just two hands and one guitar. They did the percussive title track from "Learning How to Fly," and also from the same album, "Heaven Down Here." If this song doesn't get to you, nothing will. Patti's emotion-filled delivery is absolutely gorgeous, with Tuck gently striking single harmonic notes. A woman sitting behind me nearly melted into her chair when they started this one, and when they finished I heard her manage to eek out a soft yet sincere and appreciative "Thank You."
The mood shifted quickly with the introduction of surprise guests The Blenders, a four-man a cappella group from Minneapolis that contributed to two songs on Paradise Found. They joined Patti for a finger-snapping version of one of them: the old Debarge hit "All This Love."
The next part of the show was a guitar freak's fantasy. Tuck performed solo for the next two songs, the first of which was "Up and At It" by Tuck's hero, the "elevated personage" of Wes Montgomery. Tuck told a cute story about the time his coat sleeve somehow got tangled up in his guitar strings. All he could do was ask himself, "What would Wes do?" (He kept playing as
best he could). His second song was the Santana beauty "Europa", done in a mixture of classical and flamenco styles, with Tuck sometimes slapping and sometimes tickling the strings, but never using a pick. Joe Pass was another early influence on Tuck, but he has added many subsequent layers to his style and I have to say it goes far above and beyond anything I've ever heard OR seen. Watching his right hand is as much an adventure as watching his left! The audience came to their feet for an ovation when Tuck finished. Patti came back out for "Tossin' and Turnin'", with a smooth transition into Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". For this one, she divided the audience
into three sections to join in on alternating rounds of the chorus. After another standing ovation and a surfeit of yelled requests, they did "Take My Breath Away," a song that goes from a wild, beautiful raucous to a level where you could have heard a pin drop. They finished with "Yeah Yeah." For a glimpse at the twenty-year career of Tuck and Patti, visit their web site at www.tuckandpatti.com.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Ann Wickstrom, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.