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DUO THRILLS THRONG WITH A HEAVENLY SOUND

The choir robe Patti Cathcart wore was of show-stopping white satin. She looked, in fact, like the angel who will be standing next to St. Peter checking off names at the Pearly Gates.

She sounded like an angel, too -- but then there's nothing new about that. She always has.

The first performance of the remarkably intimate guitar-vocal jazz duo Tuck and Patti just happened to be one of the final concerts in the Marquee at the Tralf before its name-performer policy goes dark for the summer. It wasn't just a sellout. It was a turn-away sellout leaving scarcely an inch of stray space anywhere in the club and a substantial line of frustrated late ticket buyers who couldn't get in for love or money.

Such magical performers deserve nothing less. With two discs together under their belt -- and one new one for guitarist Tuck Andress alone -- the husband-wife team has become one of the most beguiling attractions in jazz.

That the two also border on the sort of soul-folk music that Richie Havens used to sing and record for New Age music franchisers Windham Hill hasn't hurt them one bit. Still, they inspire such a large cult enthusiasm that it clearly is about to achieve critical mass. Not surprisingly, Friday evening's audience went wild for them.

All it will take is one appearance on a late night talk show -- a quick Letterman or Carson or Arsenio to let the world at large get a look at them -- and the enchantment of what they do probably will hit as hard as Bobby McFerrin once did.

What stuns and even awes listeners a bit about Tuck and Patti is a musical oneness of effort that is enough to give you hope for the whole benighted species. No one on earth could fake it. (You can fake a lot of things, but you can't fake that.) To hear them perform is to sense a world of possibility for two people in a world that generally finds such ideas in the greeting card racks of your local drugstore.

Add to that a ferocious swing that could liberate the closet toe-tappers in a Carmelite convent and you have an act possible to fall head over heels in love with.

Musically, it perhaps is easier to explain.

Tuck Andress is a phenomenally agile guitarist capable of anything from sweeping harp glissandos to a suggestion of rock raunch. No matter how gymnastic she might get, Patti Cathcart's rich contralto voice has a plush pillowy quality that turns wonderfully soft and whispery in the upper registers.

No matter what she sings -- "They Can't Take That Away From Me"; Paul McCartney songs, better them at this stage than McCartney; Jimi Hendrix songs, Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" -- the celestial sweetness of her voice tends to disguise the virtuosity of what she does.

When she scats, she doesn't become a trumpet like Ella Fitzgerald or a saxophone like Sarah Vaughan. She scats rhythm guitar lines. What is breathtaking about Tuck and Patti is that they truly seem to think, play and sing as one.

And when the time comes for the oldest of all performing ploys -- the audience sing-along, for instance -- they somehow do the corniest stuff in the world with loveliness and grace.

REVIEW
Tuck and Patti

Guitar-vocal jazz duo in concert.

Friday night in the Marquee at the Tralf.

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