By Roz Milner
Published Sep 17, 2019
Recorded live in April 2018, Live shows jazz singer Patty Waters in full command of her idiosyncratic voice, and is a welcome return for the singer. Backed by pianist Burton Greene, bassist Mario Pavone and drummer/percussionist Barry Altschul, Waters tackles standards here with her own distinctive flair.
Live starts off innocently enough with "You've Changed" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Sure, her voice vibrates and drips with emotion, but it's pretty straightforward.
About halfway, through, Live takes a left turn. Waters becomes less concerned with lyrics, and starts acting as another instrument. As Altschul works his cymbals, Waters' voice raises in register, twisting and wrapping around itself. On "Moon Don't Come Up Tonight," she sounds fragile and bold, her voice about to break one moment and pushing the music forward the next.
It continues when she tackles Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," her voice taking on its intense lead as she stretches out the words, while Burton gently tinkles his piano, Altschul provides sparse percussion and Pavone accompanies in a lower register. Finally, on "Hush Little Baby," Waters repeats a few lines, working up and down her vocal range. It's not hard to see why she's been cited as a precursor to Meredith Monk, Yoko Ono and Patti Smith.
With the way it starts traditionally, but slowly spins into something else, Live is a great showcase for Waters' distinctive vocal styling. It lures listeners in, then catches them off guard. It's engaging, compelling you to pay attention. It may be a bit outré for some, but that's reason enough for the curious to give it a spin. (Blank Form Editions)