By Hrayr Attarian
Sam Fazio Let’s Go
Sam Fazio – Vocals
Tuck Andress – Guitar and bass
Chris White – Piano
Tim Fitzgerald – Guitar
Michael Peloquin – Harmonica
Leon Joyce – Drums
James Henry – Percussion
Denise Young – Background vocals
Patti Cathcart – Background vocals
Chicago vocalist Sam Fazio has made a name for himself for his suave crooning and reserved—yet emotive—delivery on standards. On his fourth release as a leader, Let’s Go, Fazio teams up with the legendary duo of singer Patti Cathcart and her husband, guitarist/bassist Tuck Andress, for a charming set of intimate songs. Better known by their stage name of Tuck and Patti, the couple produced the album and co-wrote a pair of originals with the leader.
The sparse instrumentation—often a single accompanist—highlights Fazio’s richly nuanced singing. For instance, on Fazio’s dramatic rendition of the Beatles’ classic, “Eleanor Rigby,” Andress’ reverberating, lyrical bass underscores the wistful poetry of the words. Fazio brings a warm melancholy to the tune with his expressive articulation and soothing voice.
“Downtown Train,” a Tom Waits composition, superbly fuses folkish romanticism with a lounge-like irreverence. Fazio’s yearning yet acerbic vocals complement harmonica player Michael Peloquin’s wailing tones and guitarist Tim Fitzgerald’s lilting strings. Immediately following is the playful “My Baby Just Cares for Me.” Fazio interprets this Nina Simone-associated song with wit and an easygoing sense of swing. Drummer Leon Joyce’s effervescent beats and pianist Chris White’s cascading notes enhance this playful mood while Cathcart’s and Denise Young’s background vocals add a soulful touch to the piece.
One of Fazio’s two originals, in collaboration with Tuck and Patti, is the uptempo and exuberant title track. It features Fitzgerald’s crisp lines and White’s bluesy keys. Fazio sings this celebration of love with agility and elegance while Joyce and percussionist James Henry provide a percolating backdrop.
The second is the haunting closer of the disc, the tender “Share My Love.” Fazio’s eloquent vocals glide effortlessly over Andress’ quasi-Baroque guitar chords. The musicians exhibit a seamless and delightful camaraderie that also runs throughout this captivating set.
Let’s Go is Fazio’s most cohesive and mature work to date. On it he has finally forged an individual style and a personal approach. These, together with his superb artistry, make this record highly enjoyable.