Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Music Club: influence detective edition: on free jazz singer Patty Waters, and those who cite her...

Patty Waters. latter 1960s
Patty Waters has had one of the more enigmatic careers among jazz vocalists, having been "discovered" singing in a supper club by avant-garde jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler and recommended to Ayler's primary label at the time, ESP-Disk Records. She recorded two albums for the indy label in 1965 and '66, then, after a bit of a European sojourn, retired from performance for decades. But the two LPs, and a rarities collection, helped her have some important influence on Patti Smith, Lydia Lunch and Diamanda Galás, by their own account (and through the first two, punk rock among other modes). Here, below, a slight query into some of those who might've influenced Waters, or at least got her to consider opening up her approach in the direction she took for her early write "gave her permission" is too much, I suspect...Waters apparently hadn't heard the Lincoln performance till after recording her own.

Sheila Jordan with the George Russell Sextet: "You Are My Sunshine"

Nina Simone: "Feeling Good"

Jeanne Lee and Ran Blake: "Laura"

Abbey Lincoln with the Max Roach band: "Triptych (Prayer, Protest, Peace)" from Freedom Now Suite

Patty Waters: "It Never Entered My Mind"

Patty Waters: "Song of Clifford"

for her recording of "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair"

Joan La Barbara: "Twelvesong"

Patti Smith Group: "Ain't It Strange"


R.K. Robinson said...

I can't say I'm much impressed with Waters. I didn't think it was possible to sing "It Never Entered My Mind" that slowly. The pianist could have taken a short nap between notes.

Todd Mason said...

I didn't peg you for a natural Waters fan! La Barbara is someone I've just encountered through putting this together, and as someone pioneering in the kind of vocal overlay that Urszula Dudziak, Reggie Watts, and most famously Bobby McFerrin have also employed, I'll look forward to that...

Jim C. said...

A very interesting array. I was struck by how Jordan, Lee, and Waters, in their own ways, did new things with old standards. Back in the day, I was scared off by the "weirdness" critics seemed to find in these artists' approaches. Now I know better.

Todd Mason said...

Yes...denser critics can be pretty useless (I'm amused, in the JAZZ TIMES article, to learn that the DOWN BEAT reviewer who panned Waters in her initial reviews there was Harvey Pekar, later more famous for his own Outsider Art autobiographical comics scripting...).