Patty Carpenter's latest recording brings into harmony her love of good, hard-swinging jazz, her appreciation for the song writing craft, and the pleasures of her daytime job, singing for senior citizens in senior centers and nursing homes throughout New England.
As those who have heard her know, Patty has a strong, clear and wonderfully buoyant trumpet-like voice and an affinity for long, swinging straight-ahead lines, like those of her favorite tenor saxophonists John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Wayne Shorter. She also has an ear for the emotional content of the lyrics. She sings to tell a story and find meaning in the words. "Memories of Love's Refrain" is taken from a line in Hoagy Carmichael's famous Stardust. It's a favorite with her senior audiences who confide to Patty that they "fell in love" to that song.
Patty Carpenter's love of music began in the mid-fifties when, still a toddler, she first heard The Hall of the Mountain King from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite. Her grandfather, who lived in her house in Rochester, New York, had a large classical collection. As Patty grew up, she listened to folk, rock, pop, blues and jazz. She played piano, bottleneck guitar, and sang in local coffeehouses. Her first musical hero was Julie Andrews. From Mary Poppins she matured to dig Joan Baez, Janis Joplin and Billie Holiday. (Annette Funicello was another early hero, -"but not for her singing," Patty says.)
Patty takes a special delight in singing for seniors. As a teenager, she often took her grandfather to the local senior center. She'd sing and play the piano and the old folks would love it. Now she does it on a regular circuit. "Seniors are a hip audience," Patty says. "They know good music. They grew up listening to swing bands and know all the standards. Playing for them can be a wonderfully moving experience. It's like transporting them back to their youth."
In the jazz studies program at the University of Massachusetts, Patty studied with tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp and bassist Reggie Workman. Workman told her, "if you want to sing the music, learn its history," which Patty did. There's a lot of Miles Davis' bittersweet blues in her version of Bye Bye Blackbird, and Billie Holiday-like behind-the-beat phrasing in I Can't Give You Anything but Love, and the other up tempo numbers.
Patty spent a year in New York City, playing the piano bar circuit, but wanted to raise her family in rural New England. (That's daughter Melissa, a singer in her own right who often gigs with her mother, doing the harmony on When I Grow Too Old To Dream). Music keeps her busy. In addition to her work with seniors and her gigs (solo or with jazz accompaniment) in area clubs and restaurants, she has her own rock band, Patty & the Cakes and does big band dates with the Radio Swing Orchestra. She's also available, along with her musician friends, for the proverbial weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs.
The small towns and back roads of the Connecticut River Valley are bursting with artists, writers and musicians who have chosen to escape-or never wanted to be part of-the Big Apple pressure cooker. Some of the best local jazz musicians back Patty on this record.
Tom McClung, who grew up in Northampton and graduated from Marlboro College, is every singer's favorite pianist in the Valley. He also plays and records with the Paradise City Jazz Band and does solo work. A hard-driving improviser who knows how to lay-back and complement a singer, McClung reminds this listener of another Bay State stay-at-home pianist, Dave McKenna.
Tenor saxophonist Fred Haas has toured with Ray Charles, Tommy Dorsey, and Pat Methany. He often gigs with guitarist Atilla Zoller who has a jazz school in Newfane, Vermont, and teaches sax, piano and jazz studies at Dartmouth and Middlebury Colleges.
Dave Shapiro played bass in the house band of Eddie Condon's famous New York City jazz club and has recorded with Chet Baker, Woody Herman, Lee Konitz, Anita O'Day and Howard McGee.
Draa Hobbs is a virtuoso guitarist and songwriter who has played with Tal Farlow, Jon Friedman, Attila Zoller, Harold Danko, and George Mraz. He teaches at Marlboro College, Northfield-Mount Hermon and at the Vermont Jazz Center.
Drummer Randy Kaye has collaborated with Jimmy Guiffre for over 25 years and has played with Jimi Hendrix, Sheila Jordan, Roswell Rudd, Charlie Mariano and Tony Scott.
Whether you swooned to Sinatra or jitterbugged
to Goodman, Miller, the Dorseys, and Count Basie, whether you
are a twenty or thirty-something, a teenage slacker, a generation
"x-er", or a baby boomer like Patty, you are sure to
be touched by Memories of Love's Refrain and the marvelous,
lyrical singing of Patty Carpenter.
Marty Jezer, historian, journalist and jazz buff, has been a fan of Patty Carpenter for 25 years and is the author of biographies of Abbie Hoffman and Rachel Carson.
Here the singer and instrumentalists are integrated and the music benefits. Carpenter's voice is clear to the point of transparency with a lovely bit of tremulous vibrato occasionally seeping in. The quiescent "folksiness" of her voice enhances Hoagy's Small Fry and makes When I Grow Too Old To Dream, on which her daughter, Melissa Shetler, sings harmony with her a pure delight. Moonlight Become You is a beautifully calm, fervidly serene reading of that neglected standard.The rhythm is tight throughout with pianist McClung in bright McKenna mode. Guitarist Draa Hobbs has a fluent chordal style and Fred Haas swings his tenor gustily on I Can't Give You Anything But Love and Blackbird. This whole CD is an example of how honest quality trumps excess.
Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence
Recorded and released as a cassette in 1996 as one of Patty Carpenter's earlier efforts, this album has been reissued on her Epiphany label. Carpenter has a light, ingenuous voice which she readily adapts to the type of material she is performing. As much as any tune in the set, "Undecided" reveals the sauciness and exuberance of Carpenter's approach to up-tempo material. This cut also features a fine interchange between Dave Shapiro's bass and Randy Kaye's drums. "Stardust," on the other hand, shows her tender side. The album's title, of course, is a line from this Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish classic. The singer takes a wide-eyed stance with the Bing Crosby favorite "Moonlight Becomes You," where Carpenter shows she knows how to use her slight vibrato to accent phrases. "When I Get Too Old to Dream," where she is joined by Melissa Shetler on backup vocals, gets a dash of country waltz poignancy. In addition to the attractiveness of Carpenter's singing, this album has some excellent contributions by Dartmouth educator and erstwhile tenor saxman Fred Haas. Especially notable are his statements on "Stardust" and "Moonlight Becomes You." There are also some sterling solo moments by Draa Hobbs on guitar, while Tom McClung's piano provides the accompaniment foundation as well as sparkling in individual efforts. That this album was originally issued as a cassette likely explains the scant 32 minutes of music. But each note is delivered with verve and élan and this is certainly worth adding to a vocal jazz collection. Recommended.
Dave Nathan, All Music Guide
While her previous CD's had knock out vocals, her new CD Memories of Love's Refrain is tops. For some unknown reason the first tune I picked to air was Hoagy Carmichael's Small Fry. I have heard this done by veryone from Bing Crosby to Willie Nelson, but this version would make ole Hoagy smile as it did me. The listeners loved it so I gave them Stardust. The backup group is great, especially Tom McClunb and Draa Hobbs.
Larry Routt, WOBO Radio, Cincinnati, OH
Patty Carpenter is a first class act, her voice rich with expression and keen understanding of each song she sings, and she has clear voice. This 8 song collection will delight jazz lovers of straight-ahead classic jazz.
Songs include "Stardust," "Undecided," "When I Grow Too Old To Dream," "It Had To Be You," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Moonlight Becomes You," "Small Fry," and "Bye Bye Blackbird." It is evident the singer is comfortable with each song and puts her love into each delivery.
Tom McClung gives some fine performances on the piano, full of verve and excitement as do the other musicians. Draa Hobbs plays some memorable solo work on his guitar.
This is a highly likeable collection, one that
is full of life and vigor. MEMORIES OF LOVE'S REFRAIN is a showcase
for the talents of Patty Carpenter. Special note: Give a listen
to her vocals on "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" and
"Bye Bye Blackbird" and listen to her range of voice
and sweet phrasing. Her version of "It Had To Be You"
is worthy of jazz radio playtime! A wonderful listening experience.
Lee Prosser, Jazzreview.com
Patty Carpenter Home Page
Free counters provided by Andale.