To thank Japanese fans for their support and loyalty for the past 16 years, Tuck & Patti wanted to send them “A Gift of Love.”
Those fans promptly unwrapped it and listened to their smooth-jazz heart’s content.
“It was really targeted for the Japanese audience. We solicited requests from our fans, as well as the record company there, plus we did the songs we wanted to do,” Tuck Andress, half of the husband-and-wife duo, said recently. “It did really well in Japan, which prompted us to release it in the U.S.”
“A Gift of Love” (Hear here), released stateside July 20 on T&P Records/33rd Street, features Patti Cathcart’s lilting voice and Andress’ classically trained guitar work on covers of “Up on the Roof,” “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki,” Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You,” Queen’s “I Was Born to Love You,” “Hold Me Tight and Don’t Let Go,” “Song for You,” Carpenters’ “Close to You,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and an instrumental version of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.”
“We’ve always done songs of other composers,” Cathcart said. “I think it’s a jazz tradition to reinvent or do songs with their own stamp. The idea of doing covers isn’t so much a shadow in the jazz realm as it would be in the pop world.
“It has to be a song you enjoy. We did the Carole King song, ‘Up on the Roof,’ simply because I’ve always loved that song. It was great to be able to do it with (keyboardist) Frank (Martin). For people in Japan, a song like that really wasn’t on their radar. Some songs that were hits here weren’t necessarily hits in Japan the first time around, so it’s nice to introduce them to it.”
Tuck & Patti know plenty about Japan. They have done 25 tours there since their debut Windham Hill album, “Tears of Joy,” was released in 1988.
“It’s been like a second home to us,” Andress said. “It’s been really personal with Japanese people that have come to the shows; we’ve met them so many times, we ended up being great friends with a lot of them.”
The prosperous Japan they knew in the late ’80s is drastically different today. The Japanese economy has been shaken to its core.
“There’s a big difference between the time when we first went there and now,” Cathcart said. “The plight of the homeless people is much worse than before. They’re very organized and very clean. There’s this one park where there’s row after row of people sleeping there, but it’s very Japanese, very organized. Everyone’s slippers is outside their lean-too. Train stations have become homeless centers at night. It happened so quickly, too; it went from being off your radar into right in your face.”
Andress says the Japanese have learned a humbling lesson.
“It’s been a big transformation for them, that in people’s minds that they can’t just completely trust that the company’s going to take care of them,” he said. “All of a sudden, that changed, and they pulled the rugs out from under them, on a whole population of the country.”
Tuck & Patti, on the other hand, have been safe and secure in their niche: a palatable mixture of jazz, R&B and pop. The two first met in Las Vegas in 1980 and began performing together in California in 1981, eventually marrying two years later. Now they have 10 albums to their credit.
“As musicians, the idea of having a steady job is unusual,” Andress said, “but we’ve been singularly more secure than all our friends who have real jobs.”
There’s no secret to lasting this long in the here-now-and-gone-tomorrow music industry. Cathcart says they simply love what they do.
“That’s a really precious thing if you get to do what you love the most,” she said. “There’s not a lot of complaining about that part of it. The fact that we do something unique, that’s not in the mainstream very much, because of that we’ve ended up keeping a job.”
They have made a career out of love songs, and love songs – even in a time when there’s so much hate in the world – never go out of style, Andress says.
“There’s never a wrong time to send out that message about love,” he said. “We’re just going to keep spreading that message.”
ON THE WEB: www.tuckandpatti.com.
BWF (before we forget): The Tuck & Patti album discography – “Tears of Joy” (Windham Hill, 1988); “Love Warriors” (1989); “Reckless Precision” – Tuck solo (1990); “Dream” (1991); “The Best of Tuck & Patti” (1994); “Learning How to Fly” (Epic, 1995); “Paradise Found” (Windham Hill, 1998); “Taking the Long Way Home” (2000); “As Time Goes By” (2001); “Chocolate Moment” (33rd Street, 2002); “A Gift of Love” (T&P/33rd Street, 2004).
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