Peter Erskine’s sparkling drum solo, ushering in the breezy McCoy Tyner-Sammy Cahn confection “You Taught My Heart to Sing,” seems a perfect introduction to vocalist Joanne Tatham. Blessed with impeccable phrasing and a meticulous sense of time, Tatham projects a West Coast effervescence yet also conjures the long shadows of Manhattan. It’s an honest duality. A native New Yorker once set on building a career in musical theatre, Tatham instead headed west to marry one of TV’s top comedy writers and adjusted her path, establishing herself among SoCal’s foremost jazz-cabaret draws.
For Out of My Dreams, her second album in as many years, she’s surrounded herself with top West Coast talent, including Erskine, pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist John Clayton, saxophonist Bob Sheppard and guitarist Marcel Camargo, with Hendelman and Eli Brueggemann prominent among the arrangers and Mark Winkler as producer.
So stellar an assemblage deserves equally beguiling material, and Tatham doesn’t disappoint. Jobim’s “Vivo Sonhando” is at once dreamy and sad, West Side Story‘s “Cool” feels icily threatening and Dave Frishberg’s “Too Long in LA” is, of course, a comic delight. Deeper invention drives “Double Life,” Tatham’s caressing lyric married to Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story”; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s lilting title tune, invigorated by some clever vocalese; and Harry Nilsson’s disconsolate “Without Her,” artfully reimagined atop a soothing Afro-Brazilian beat.