Tuck & Patti

a husband & wife Jazz duo

To understand Tuck & Patti, it’s best not to start with their music. Start rather with the wellspring of love within them; then their music begins to make perfect sense. Now celebrating their 22th year together as partners and soulmates, Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart continue to stoke the fires, not only of their own love, but also of their love of life and of their passion for making music.

Not that Tuck & Patti turn a blind eye to life’s struggles. “We’ve been through some agony and pain,” says Patti. “But joy is what continues to rise and shine. It’s the basis of our music and everything we do. Call it divine love, love of your mate, love of your planet; whatever you call it, joy is what it’s all about for us.”

The Jazz Duo met in 1978 and it was musical love at first sight, soon after, it grew into the real deal, sealed by their 22 year old marriage. The Oklahoma-born Tuck Andress first studied piano as a youth but eventually switched to guitar, relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area to study music at Stanford. Over time, Tuck developed his signature multi-layered playing technique that has so confounded critics and thrilled audiences. Patti Cathcart, a San Francisco native, was a classically trained vocalist who liked to hang out at jazz and rock clubs.

Since then, the duo has 15 albums to their name. The musical settings that Patti develops for her stories range from the blues to ballads to Calypso, and in Tuck’s hands her arrangements assume an almost orchestral quality. The innovative guitarist relishes in accompanying his musical partner and soulmate, comparing the challenge to doing a high wire act blindfolded without a net.

“I’ve heard it said that ‘one performs one’s strengths and practices one’s weaknesses,’ and making music with Patti for the past 22 years has provided ample opportunity to do both,” Tuck confides. “She has this uncanny ability in her writing to find that one chord which, more often than not, corresponds with that one black hole in my many years of analyzing harmony, or involves a fingering I hadn’t previously considered in decades of trying to perfect my technique,” he marvels. “In working with her I’ve learned that what seems impossible can become merely difficult and that the difficult can become relatively simple.”

Over the subsequent six years, in clubs, steak joints, and lounges across the country, Tuck & Patti honed their highly individualistic style. Though Iabel deals frequently came their way, Tuck & Patti passed on all offers until they were certain of their goals and ambitions. That day came in 1988, when Windham Hill came calling. Their first three albums, Tears of Joy (1988), Love Warriors (1989), and Dream (1991), plus a pair of solo albums from Tuck — Reckless Precision and Hymns, Carols, and Songs About Snow — established the two worldwide, leading the dean of jazz critics, the late Leonard Feather, to make his now-famous pronouncement: ‘‘Not since Ella Fitzgerald met Joe Pass on stage has there been so felicitous a mating as Tuck & Patti.” In 1995, the pair recorded Learning How To Fly for Epic Records before returning home to Windham Hill to begin work on Paradise Found.