Patty Peterson sounds like a lot of other great singers out there, jazz or otherwise, but I can’t name them off the top of my head. When I hear singers, I want to hear them for their strengths, deal with the weaknesses, and see how they’ll take on the song, how compatible they are with the musicians and now they just groove. Peterson sounds like someone who could carry any and all songs given to hear, even the bad ones, but fortunately the good ones are what make up hew new album, The Very Thought Of You (self-released).
While this is technically classified as jazz, some of the songs here are soul, or at least soul in the mid to late 70’s context where throwing in a saxophone to do an emotional solo may lead someone to put her into jazz radio rotation, and nothing wrong with that. These are slow jams that are necessary for everyone, including the younger generation, to let them know how it should be done in a proper fashion. There are some nice jazz covers here, but the ones I enjoyed were her treatments of George Harrison’s and Stevie Wonder’s songs. With Harrison, she takes on The Beatles’ “Something” and once again, you’ll understand why Frank Sinatra called it one of the best songs ever written. On the Wonder side, she takes on a song normally known for being a mid-tempo funk jam. “Higher Ground” is turned into a ballad, and it fits perfectly, showing the strengths of not only Peterson’s voice, but also how well Wonder’s words can fit in any context. Other cover versions on this album include Billie Holiday’s “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)”, Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale”, and Michael Johnson’s “Bluer Than Blue”, and while you know they are covers, they become Peterson’s in a complimentary way. I’m normally not a big vocal jazz listener, but I could listen to Patty Peterson all day and night.
…and the morning.