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Vocalist Allison Adams Tucker has a lot of fans, as the standing room only situation on August 4 at Dizzy's soundly reinforced.

And, why not? Tucker has a strong and pure voice with implacable intonation and superb enunciation, and she surrounded herself with top-shelf local players including Lou Fanucchi on accordion, Chris Vitas on violin, Dusty Brough on guitar, Evona Wascinski on bass and Richard Sellers on drums.

Having said all that -- the concert was presented as a tribute to Django Reinhardt & the Hot Club de France, which wasn't exactly true -- a more accurate representation might have been a bunch of unrelated songs I sing in French, although that's not quite as catchy.

Opening with Reinhardt's "Nuages," the spidery interaction of violin and accordion over the restrained backbeat of bass and drums didn't really take flight until Fanucchi's solo, which was rhythmically exuberant and a constant source of delight throughout the evening. Tucker wound through the melody with limber grace and crystal-clear diction -- ( if I spoke French, I'm sure that's what I'd think). Still, despite the '30's style groove and the acoustic instrumentation, it didn't sound anything at all like Reinhardt's music to me.

Wascinski has a beautiful sound and solid time, but she was very hard to hear in the ensemble sections, and it was only her feature on Charlie Haden's "Our Spanish Love Song," that really afforded one the opportunity to completely enjoy her aesthetic.

Special props go out to Sellers, who had the unenviable task of driving the group while being conscripted to the volume level and rhythmic austerity of a drummer from the 1930's. Brough is an excellent nylon-string specialist, but he is much better suited to other material. Still, he made the most of his opportunities.

Vitas, like Wascinski, seemed to get buried in the overall sonic curtain, but he did have an excellent feature in the other Reinhardt tune, "Swing de Paris," breaking out with strong ideas and a swinging force of motion before yielding to Sellers, who finally got a chance to shine with an explosive solo.

The evening seemed to be unnecessarily burdened by the thematic element. There were a lot of superfluous explanations of a Wikipedia nature, and I wish Tucker had just chosen to sing, rather than provide "back-story."

When she is singing, Tucker is good enough to make me appreciate songs that I really can't stand, like Michel Legrand's tortuously pretentious "Windmills of Your Mind," which is quite a testament to her ability.

Of course, this is just my opinion -- the huge crowd would probably disagree with me, and I could certainly understand that.

My suggestion next time? Modern Music that Allison Adams Tucker likes to sing, again, not very catchy-- but I'd be down for it, nonetheless.

Photo by Hiro Izeki

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