Except for his richly soulful, deeply affecting and inviting vocal style, multi-talented singer, songwriter and guitarist Andy Pratt’s first official jazz album Trio has little in common with his two, dramatically produced (and sometimes quasi-symphonic) earlier albums showcasing his artistry as a singer-songwriter.
It’s every emerging artist’s prerogative to shift gears to find the most appropriate road for his or her gifts, and judging from his generally low key, tastefully arranged spins on an offbeat array of rarely heard Great American Songbook era songs, the Chicago based artist made the right choice to go the John Pizzarelli, fluid guitar and vocal route – at least for now. Creating a cool, engaging rapport with longtime collaborator, bassist Policastro and in demand drummer Phil Gratteau,
Pratt weaves a spell as a storytelling interpreter that’s as passionate and enticing, it not more, than when he’s sharing his own material. As if to declare his newfound mission as a jazz cat, Pratt sets the table by introducing us to his intricate and fluid playing at the start of a lightly swinging rendition of The Gershwins’ “Pretty Soon” before gracing us with his vocal coolness on the lighthearted “Little White Lies” and the heartbreaking yet bittersweet “When Joanna Loved Me.”
Equally interested in sharing his guitar mastery, the chemistry of his trio and his irresistible and often witty vocal phrasing, Pratt makes some wildly intriguing, choices from multiple eras along the way – including a 1940 Ink Spots gem (“We Three (My Echo, My Shadow & Me)”), Cole Porter’s “From This Moment On,” Jerry Goldsmith’s legendary “Theme From Chinatown” and two Burt Bacharach classics (“Always Something There to Remind Me,” “Something Big”). Time will tell if Pratt stays in the jazz lane or bounces back to being a singer/songwriter. With any luck, he’ll find a way to share the depth of both sides of his artistry.