Patrice WILLIAMSON, Jon WHEATLEY– Comes Love: A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass – Riverlily Records 003 49:43***  [MP3 Download on Amazon]

Empathy with the material and the antecedents

( Patrice Williamson – vocals, flute (1&12), shaker (12); Jon Wheatley – guitar)

In this Centenary year of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth ( born April 25,1917 in Newport News Virginia) there are multiple recorded offerings in the works, including 100 Songs For A Centennial which will include some of her early Decca single releases, Cheek To Cheek, The Complete Ella & Louis Duets as well as the eight classic albums that make up the Ella Fitzgerald Song Books. There has been no indication that any of the four studio albums ( 1973-1986) that Ella and Joe Pass did together would be considered in this special effort. However it should also be pointed out that these sessions were recorded towards the end of Ella’s long career, where her vibrato was sometimes shaky, and her three octave range was long past.

Therefore given the plethora of releases from the original Ella, it would probably be a challenge for Comes Love by Patrice Williamson and Jon Wheatley to gain any traction as a tribute album to Ella and Joe, unless it would be absolutely brilliant. Well, not so much.

In undertaking this effort, the artists concerned have certainly given their affections and musical capabilities to the project. The results do have merit but it would be an over-reach to suggest that Williamson could emulate Ella’s horn-lines singing style, or tell a story in any song. Nevertheless, Williamson has found a construct for the project in that she “chose songs with melodies and content that held a personal resonance”.  This story-line

seems to work starting with Toots Thielemans’ “Bluesette”. Through the magic of over-dubbing, Williamson plays flute as she runs through the melody which adds an interesting dynamic to the interpretation of the number.

The next bevy of tunes from”Comes Love” to “I May Be Wrong” moves the process along and keeps the duo carefully working out their interactions. However it’s not until the Billy Eckstine number “I Want To Talk About You” that vocalist and guitarist show their symbiosis to the best affect. They both pick up on the number’s inherent potential for sadness and insecurity. This may be the best track on the album.

As for the remaining cuts, they all fall into the category good, though perhaps not great, interpretations of the material. However the final piece “One Note Samba” has a lilting frame that is energized by Williamson’s flute playing. Guitarist Wheatley continues to provide his unwavering and sympathetic support as he has from the very beginning of the session.

While there is empathy with the material and the antecedents, stick with the original interpretations and interpreters.

Comes Love
’Tis Autumn
I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful)
Take Love Easy
I Want To Talk About You
Why Don’t You Do Right
Don’t be That Way
Lush Life
You turned the tables On Me
By Myself
One Note Samba

—Pierre Giroux