Ken Leighton 3:42 p.m., July 16
Allison Adams Tucker Quartet: Jazz Live
Vocalist Allison Adams Tucker played a special, Valentine concert for her KSDS Jazz Live appearance last night at the Saville Theatre. Because her gig fell on Feb. 14, Ms. Tucker tailored her program to feature the many sides of love addressed by a wide variety of composers and genres.
Tucker is an astonishing singer with impeccable pitch and crystal clear diction, allowing each lyric to be heard clearly, even if the language itself was new.
She performed in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian last night--quite a feat in itself--but what was more remarkable was the relative ease in which she pulled it off.
Tucker has assembled a tight band comprised of some of San Diego's best musicians. Drummer Mike Holguin has made a name for himself with trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos' New Latin Jazz Quintet, bassist Evona Wascinski has rock-solid time, and a beautiful, thick sound on both acoustic and electric instruments, and pianist Danny Green was the perfect accompanist, supportive in all the right places--and able to break out with compelling solos at will. He also arranged many of the pieces--adapting standards into an aesthetic that made them more personally identifiable.
"What Is This Thing Called Love," opened with Holguin's rolling tom-toms percolating the lock-step vamp of Green and Wascinski while Tucker lit it up, vocally.
A Brazilian piece, "Rosa," followed, Tucker delivering the Portuguese lyrics with a sensual coo, yielding to Green's melodious solo over the throbbing whole-notes of Wascinski.
Esperanza Spalding's "You Already Know," a lively Samba, was illuminated by the slinky electric bass lines of Wascinski's nimble fingers, while "Achilles' Heel," had a tortured theme that was completely forgotten in light of the deft acuity in which Tucker's voice sailed through its intricate harmonies. As the band wound the theme down into a vamp, Holguin fired up a series of percussive explosions.
"You Got Me," an original ballad that Tucker wrote for her own wedding, had a kind of jazz-funk undertone fueled by a probing ostinato, and elevated by the exquisite touch of Green. Edith Piaf's signature song, "La Vie En Rose," was taken at a delicious, slow swing, fostering Wascinski's measured, dark-hued solo--which focused on the quality of each individual note. Tucker's delivery in French seemed flawless, but then again, her voice is so strong--she could sing in Martian and make it sound romantic.
Tania Maria's "It's Only Love," burned with a sultry groove that fit these players like a glove, and Green got in a chops-laden solo that had some Chick Corea qualities to it. The band took the familiar "You Belong To Me," and made it ache and soar simultaneously, and closed the concert with a swinging, "I've Got The World On A String."
Tucker and Wascinski are about to embark on a European Tour which will conclude with a new recording made in Paris, in April, naturally.
Photos by Tom Westerlin