Grady Tate is a well known jazz and blues drummer whose work has graced an endless list of recordings. Tate has a brand new bag here as a singer. He sings Governor Jimmy Davis' "You Are My Sunshine" as an opener on this CD recorded live at the Blue Note in NYC. My favorite version of that tune is Mose Allison's dirge-like take. But, Grady Tate's version is also a new favorite.
When it comes to scat singing, Tate need play second fiddle to no one as he proves on "Everybody Loves My Baby" and others. You also get Tate's take on "All Blues," with lyrics, of course, as well as "Lush Life" and "It Might As Well Be Spring." My favorite on the latter is by Stan Getz, Gary Burton and Astrid Gilberto, but Tate can sing about Spring in any season. Especially as it just happened to be the other day, as is comnon, at least in California. "This is a love fest," is how Tate prefaces "Teach Me Tonight." The 74-year-old singer and erstwhile drummer would get a lot of students.
Glen Drews' trumpet on "Everybody Loves My Baby" made me close my eyes and recall Kermit Ruffins at Donna's in the French Quarter. Neither he nor his band stood close to the microphone; They didn't need to if they even needed a mike. "Little Black Samba" is both South American and an obvious play on words. "Where Do We Start" indeed with the multi-talented Mr. Tate. (It's always Mr. on the second reference even if this isn't the New York Times.)
Tate has style, however, and lots of it. Liner notes are by Bill Milkowski of Jazz Times and JazzIs Magazine. Bill wrote for my (and many others') old Milwaukee paper, The Bugle American and has made a well deserved name for himself. Never Blow Retreat, the Bugle's old motto, Bill.
The list of musicians Tate has backed is too long to include but among them are: Stan Getz, Count Basie, Clark Terry, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aretha Franklin. He reminds Bill Milkowski of Billy Eckstine and Lou Rawls. I want to add Jimmy Witherspoon, many of whose albums I heard when I was young and impressionable. I'll have to hit the net in search of Spoon's versions of these songs.
Meanwhile, "Little Black Samba" just made me roll up my rug. Bill Easley's flute would likely have the same effect I've observed in women dancing at blues clubs. Joe Louis Walker did that with his harp one night at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz. My friend Sigmund Snopek III does it with his flute. He's personally played it in the ears of endless female audience members. Works for him and Joe Louis Walker who told me the only instrument he's ever not been able to master is the violin. I'll bet Grady Tate can play, or at least sing, that one too.