Tammy McCann has a natural jazz/blues voice. Imbuing American Songbook with those colorings creates unique, savory phrasing. The vocalist is a thoughtful, low key interpreter who eschews volume for its own show-off sake. Camera gaze is warm and direct creating unexpected intimacy in a streaming context. Performance feels honest, unaffected. Hands only rise from her lap as if compelled. Tonight’s collaborator, guitarist Fareed Haque, brings a classical background to jazz and samba. Music is enunciated with skill and devotion. Camaraderie is palpable.
“Old Devil Moon” (Burton Lane/Yip Harburg) sashays in on a happy, rhythmic strum. McCann gently rocks forward and back. There’s a momentary hint of howl. Acoustic accompaniment is playful. The song surges with finesse.
An up-tempo “Tea for Two” (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar) sustains the mood with a wink and a shimmy. McCann’s delivery of short phrases never seems clip. Haque skates around the original tune, then goes offroad in a solitary example of hearing something we don’t.
Carl Sigman/Bob Russell’s “Crazy, He Calls Me,” gently muses. Vocal is silken. We believe every sighed word. Vibrato ripples. Strings are cajoled. The song exits powdery. “Unless It’s You” (Johnny Mandel/Morgan Ames), which takes us outside Chicago’s Sound Mine Studios, is bruised nostalgia. I wonder why/I’ve loved so few/I guess I’m shy/I’m just like you…McCann holds onto notes as if unwilling to let go of a feeling. Some are so long, they seem to wrap around the singer. A little sob emerges like punctuation.
Vernacular peppers a swinging samba version of “Boy From Ipanema” (differentiated from the original ‘Girl’) as if on a busman’s holiday. There’s “uh huh ahhh,” “yeah, yeah, yeah, “the boy’s lookin’ so good to me.” Chicago meets the tropics. Flirty, somewhat jaded attitude surprisingly works. “Just my luck,” she sighs. (Antônio Carlos Jobim/ Portuguese lyrics -Vinícius de Moraes/English lyrics- Norman Gimbel) Also a samba, Buddy Johnson’s “Save Your Love for Me” is artfully expressive. Phrasing breezes in wide to narrow, like painted strokes. The vocal has a blues feel.
“Daydream” (Billy Strayhorn/John Latouche) is a longlined, floaty vocal, its timbre as tenderly sure as it might be in more secure vocal territory. There’s not a frayed note, not a quiver. Haque’s’s head moves forward, sideways, with a little shake as if in dialogue with his instrument. A delicate clap and a little light scat take us tiptoeing out. “I’ve Got the World on a String” (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler), finds McCann dancing in her chair-shoulders forward, eyes crinkling; effervescent. Guitar twirls, slides, bends, and taps. “If I should ever let him go” elicits “I’m not gonna do that.” She laughs.
We close with a delicate, earthy “Stardust” (Hoagy Carmichael.) A lovely show.
Photo Courtesy of Tammy McCann