On An Evening with John Patitucci & Andy James, two gifted performers join forces to conjure an intimate evening of captivating music. At a time when jazz aficionados around the world have been starved for musical experiences, the album recreates the sultry atmosphere of a candlelight nightclub as some of the most revered musicians in modern jazz perform classic standards.
Out now via Le Coq Records, An Evening with John Patitucci & Andy James features nearly 90 minutes of scintillating music featuring an incomparable ensemble. In addition to James’ mesmerizing vocals and Patitucci’s bass mastery, the album boasts arrangements by piano great Bill Cunliffe for an ensemble that includes saxophonists Chris Potter and Rick Margitza, trumpeter Terell Stafford, guitarists Chico Pinheiro and Jake Langley, keyboardists John Beasley and Jon Cowherd, percussionist Alex Acuña, drummers Vinnie Colaiuta, Marcus Gilmore and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, along with powerful horn and string sections.
“I wanted people to just sit back and enjoy a listening experience of serene pleasure,” declares James. “John and I tried to create something easy to listen to that would leave people feeling good afterwards. I recorded the album in anticipation that people wouldn’t something too complicated at this time we all find ourselves in.”
Jazz singing and Flamenco dance have been parallel passions throughout Andy James’ life. Flamenco took prominence during what she now refers to as “act one” of her artistic life. She became renowned as a world-class Flamenco dancer, enjoying a successful career dancing with husband and partner Piero Pata in Madrid.
For “act two,” James relocated to the U.S. and focused on her singing career, renewing collaborations with the great jazz musicians who had crossed her path while they traveled through Europe. She and Pata launched Le Coq Records, releasing a series of albums ranging in style from the elegance of the female jazz swing tradition to vintage R&B to the post-bop urgency of the classic Blue Note era.
An estimable professional family has quickly found a home at the label, with Patitucci, Acuña and Cunliffe playing key roles on a number of releases and several musicians making recurring appearances from one recording to the next. On An Evening With…, Patitucci proves an ideal partner for James, bringing his revered tone and musical vision to the project and convening the ideal musicians for each piece.
“When choosing personnel for any project,” Patitucci explains, “I try to find the greatest musicians that I have longstanding relationships with, in order to have the opportunity to get more deeply into the music at hand.”
Over the course of a career lasting four decades, Patitucci has forged essential collaborations with some of the most acclaimed artists in jazz and beyond, most notably long-lasting partnerships with iconic saxophonist Wayne Shorter and the late Chick Corea.
Speaking of James, Patitucci says, “Andy is a very generous and flexible collaborator. She has a great love for the Great American Songbook. When she sings, her phrasing is reminiscent of so many of the great singers that I grew up listening to. The style that she sings in provides the opportunity to write arrangements for larger orchestrations.”
James returns the compliment. “John is very important to my whole performance. Without John’s playing I would have been restricted in the way I could sing and approach every song in the album. John Patitucci brings a deep sound that allows me the freedom to sing with a lot of mood or feeling in my voice. He gives me a lot of space to create a meaningful performance.”
From the intoxicatingly lush opener “Autumn in New York,” with Patitucci’s robust bass matched by a fervent tenor solo by Potter, to the last-call balladry of “Angel Eyes” that closes the set, An Evening with John Patitucci & Andy James features countless classic songs along with a few surprises, including the smoldering James and Pata-penned love song “Burn for Love.”
As she did on her previous release, Tu Amor, James reaches into her Latin influences on “Besame Mucho.” In addition to a number of well-known jazz standards James stretches the American Songbook to encompass great pop and rock classics like The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”
The choices certainly inspire passionate playing from James and Patitucci’s guests, with standouts including Rick Margitza’s soaring solo on “Fire and Rain,” Terell Stafford’s heart-wrenching take on “Moonlight in Vermont,” and the soulful playing of Potter and John Beasley on the Gerry Goffin/Carole King favorite “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”
“The songs came naturally,” James explains. “I just wanted to sing some beautiful songs. The mood I had in mind when choosing these songs was one of love – I just wanted people to find love with each other again after the era of Covid!”