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Love Locked Out by Patti Wicks

In a few short years, MAXJAZZ has built an impressive discography of previously overlooked artists, like Carla Cook, who have flowered under the auspices of the label. As MAXJAZZ moves into a piano series and a horn series, Patti Wicks is the first in a line of artists who will fall under the label’s category of "Vocal/Piano Series." Now residing in southeast Florida, Wicks made an impact on the New York jazz scene a few years ago, when she performed with a galaxy of top-shelf jazz artists. Ironically, her first MAXJAZZ recording is being released after she left New York, where much of the recorded jazz talent is cultivated and discovered.

Wicks obviously believes that music’s goal is to connect with listeners in an emotional way that helps them reminisce, communicate, forgive or heal. The theme of her first MAXJAZZ CD, then, is that of the intricacies of love: love lost, love regained, love’s fulfillment, infidelity, loneliness, regret and longing. Wicks’s choice of repertoire reflects her interest in this theme. But then her voice takes over, phrasing the words to the songs with suspenseful use of space and clearly articulated lyrics. Wicks’s combination of wistfulness, vocal economy and self-accompaniment recalls some of Shirley Horn’s recordings, particularly "I Have the Feeling I’ve Been Here Before," which is similar in its pacing and chord changes to Horn’s "Here’s to Life." Moreover, Wicks’s use of the piano is advanced, like Horn’s, with its sparkling upper-register voicings of the chords, while rooting them with deep bass as necessary. As such, her piano solos, integrated with the delivery of the lyrics, are as entertaining as her singing as they expand upon songs’ harmonies with depth and chorded movement of the melody, such as incorporating briefly the changes to "Autumn in New York" into "Blue Gardenia."

In addition, Wicks’s chooses to include both the verse and the chorus in her tunes, evidence of her interest in creating a total impression as she tells the stories that the songwriters intended. Such inclusion is important to accomplishing her goal for Love Locked Out because Wicks wants to cover as much territory as she can in the emotional content of her songs. For instance, her use of the verse to Cole Porter’s "After You" indicates its wordplay with the close rhymes as sets up the emotional conflict: "After you, who/Would supply my sky of blue?/After you, why/Should I take the time to try?/For who else/Would qualify?"

After Patti Wicks, who would qualify for the next artist in the MAXJAZZ vocal/piano series? That burning question should be answered in the not too distant future as the label continues to build on the concept that Patti Wicks has so intriguingly introduced.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Patti Wicks
  • CD Title: Love Locked Out
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: MAXJAZZ
  • Tracks: Love Locked Out, After You, I Have the Feeling I’ve Been Here Before, An Empty Glass, Body and Soul, Where Were You in April, If You Could See Me Now, I Never Told You, It Never Entered My Mind, I Told You So, Would You Believe, Blue Gardenia, When Summer Turns to Snow, On Second Thought
  • Musicians: Patti Wicks (piano, vocal); Keter Betts (bass); Joe LaBarbera (drums)
  • Rating: Two Stars
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