Patty Cronheim – Days Like These – Say So Records – SSR-9 ****½:
(Patty Cronheim – vocals; Aaron Weiman – piano/Rhodes; Brian Glassman – bass; Corey Rawls – drums; Greg Wall – tenor/soprano saxophone; Clifford Adams – trombone; Audrey Welber – alto saxophone)
All musicians have to pay their dues. In the case of Patty Cronheim, a rigorous self-directed musical education, combined with tenacity and talent has propelled this artist to the precipice of national recognition As a child, she took the obligatory piano lessons, but developed a passion for the music of Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Muddy Waters, a seeming anathema to her suburban New Jersey roots. But she possessed a soulful distinctive voice that would land her in an a cappella group, and lead her to teach herself music notation. An audition with the Princeton University Jazz Ensemble put her on a path to write and perform jazz.
During an “internship” of playing private parties and private gigs, Cronheim refined her songwriting and instinctive vocal stylings. Her initial release on Say So Records is the culmination of this journey. With the help of a first-rate group of musicians and arrangers, Days Like These is a collection of accomplished jazz, including seven original compositions and three covers.
Surprisingly, the opening track, “Estando Aqui” is a breezy Brazilian number, sung in Portugese, with smooth tenor sax (Greg Wall), and trombone (Clifford Adams) solos punctuating Cronheim’s assured, dulcet toned vocals. A bluesy “Doggone Blues” with a bouncy piano interlude by Aaron Weidman has a playful touch, while “Don’t Work Anymore” swings with a subtle whimsical voice.
The artistry of Cronheim is evident on the sultry, “Made for Love”, as she is able to infuse a soulful melancholic sound, with a diverse singing style, soft and even strained. The title track, a ballad, has an emotional impact, delivered with a gossamer sensibility.
The three covers are interesting. On the classic “Superstition” (arranged by drummer, Corey Rawls), Cronheim breaks away from the funky genesis, and simply “jazzes it up”. “Summertime”, a Gershwin standard that has been covered in nearly every context, maintains a cool sizzle, with electric piano, alto saxophone (Audrey Welber), silky bass line (Brian Glassman) and a leisurely heartfelt vocal, that exudes sensuality. The final track, a scat version of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” gives the band an avenue to exhibit a traditional jazz rendition.
With deftness and passion, Patty Cronheim has announced her arrival with distinction.
TrackList: Estando Aqui; Stella By Sunlight; Don’t Work Anymore; Summertime; Superstition; Doggone Blues; I Feel The Heat; Made for Love; Days Like These; Bye Bye Blackbird
— Robbie Gerson