When a jazz vocalist digs into the vault of classic
songs, the session can be a challenge. How to revisit popular songs
without being cast aside as just another spin. The key is vocal style
and solid arrangements. Joanne Tatham has both with Out of My Dreams
(Café Pacific Records, 2014).
One song in the set, “Detour Ahead,” could describe Tatham’s path
leading to this project. In 1993, she left a career as a New York
musical-comedy performer. She married a television writer, moved to Los
Angeles and began a family. Tatham says the lifestyle change was also an
artistic change. She grew up loving the likes of Frank Sinatra, Peggy
Lee and Sammy Davis Jr. and ultimately began to feel her way as a jazz
singer in clubs and cabarets.
Sheppard’s alto flute of a voice scats in harmony with Sheppard’s sax to
introduce “You Taught My Heart to Sing.” Tatham sings with verve that’s
worthy of many jazz divas, including but not limited to Nancy Wilson,
Sarah Vaughan, Cheryl Bentyne and Tierney Sutton. The song, composed by
McCoy Tyner and Sammy Cahn, is a bright, delightful piece. This Tamir
Hendelman arrangement features the pianist with support from bassist
John Clayton and drummer Peter Erskine. Sheppard puts his instrument
through some sunny rolls in response to Tatham’s lyrical calls.
Tatham sings in a whispery style when she takes on Antonio Carlos
Jobim’s “Vivo Sonhando.” Jamieson Trotter provides the elegant piano on
this track, with Lyman Madeiros on bass, Marcel Camargo on guitar, and
Mike Shapiro handling drums and percussion. The combination provides for
a cool, bossa nova soundscape, ripe for a slow samba on a Rio beach.
Tatham sings the first verse in English. Then, after Camargo’s solo, she
comes back with Brazilian Portuguese before reverting to English.
Out of My Dreams is Tatham’s third album as a leader.