Patricia Dean: Taste Personified

A review of drummer/singer Patricia Dean's sublime new CD

What do Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Bobby Short, Nat "King" Cole, Oscar Peterson, George Benson, Harry Connick, Grady Tate, and John Pizzarelli--among many others--have in common?

They were and are all instrumentalists who sing, and/or singers who are also were and are instrumentalists.

In the annals of jazz history, however, Grady Tate stands as the only percussionist who sang, and did both equally well, although he rarely, if ever, did both simultaneously.

Meet Tampa, Florida native Patricia Dean, who stands as that rare, rare talent who plays drums sublimely, and sings like the reincarnation of a cool version of Dinah Washington.

I encountered Dean during a long-time sojourn in the Naples, Florida area, where Dean was and is much in demand with talents like trumpeter Bob Zottola (Goodman, Chick Corea, Sinatra and Maynard) as well as the astounding pianist, Stu Shelton.

Dean, who has performed with Whitey Mitchell, Nat Adderley, Ira Sullivan and John LaPorta, among many others, embodies the sublime tastefulness of Ed Thigpen. In addition to Thags, she counts among her drumming influences Tony Williams, Sonny Payne and Jack DeJohnette. Like her heroes, she never plays a note or accent out of place or a note or accent that is unnecessary. In drumming today, this is a lost art. All I can tell you is that if I ever recorded a vocal album, Patricia Dean would be my choice of drummers.

Dean's singing, which fondly recalls Nancy Wilson--in her heyday, one of the great interpreters of the Dinah Washington style--is also of a minimalist nature. She wisely lets the song speak for itself and is totally devoid of cliches, past or present.

All this can be heard on Dean's CD, "You Go to My Head," featuring pianist Shelton, bassist Rick Doll and guest Bob Zottola.

Highlights abound, including a semi-tribute to the Duke's unsung (no pun intended) vocalist Betty Roche on "Take the A Train," the lovely title tine, "The More I See You" and a heartfelt "Everytime We Say Goodbye."

I cannot say enough about this project. It is understated, and it stands as taste personified, and would urge record labels of every size to take note of Patricia Dean's "You Go to My Head."

A talent like this -- especially at this point in jazz history -- comes along very, very rarely.

For availability, contact Patricia Dean at and/or [email protected]

Dean's previous CDs, equally fine, can be found via

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Bruce Klauber