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By Robert Doershuck

Chocolate Moment With nothing more than voice and guitar, Tuck & Patti have quietly changed the world.

Not as revolutionaries, though their music can stir passions deeper than those heated by angry agitation. And not as pushers of the proverbial envelope, unless one grants that a style based on exquisite miniature gestures will captivate listeners even more than flamboyant avant indulgences.

No, the sound of Tuck & Patti is a seed that nestles and grows in the garden of the soul. It opens slowly, like a blossom that somehow spreads as much light as it draws, until the last shards of darkness disappear. Like sun and gentle rain on hard-caked earth, it can work miracles.

Through whispered ballads as well as playful swing, through a style that tempers simplicity with brisk flashes of virtuosity, Tuck Andress & Patti Cathcart have cast this magic for years — but now, on their ninth album, Chocolate Moment, they are challenged as well as liberated in ways that no one could have predicted even just a year ago.

First, the liberation. Chocolate Moment is the first release on their own label, T&P Records (released with distribution through 33rd Street Records on August 3). While insisting that no label ever forced them to compromise their sound, they found it exhilarating that even the most remote possibility of interference is now gone. "We've never held ourselves back or censored ourselves, but I'm just beginning to realize that there's a difference now. I'm sure it's going to reveal itself down the line — probably," Patti adds, with a laugh, "in that Tuck will get a solo guitar album out of it."

Then, the challenge. Throughout their personal and professional marriage, Patti Cathcart and Tuck Andress have extended their love to audiences and to the broader wonders of the world. But the world changed for them, as for everyone, on September 11 last year. The uncertainties that now define our times put the positive energy of the duo to its greatest test.

"This whole CD, every part of it, is connected to that," Patti says. "We were going through all these feelings at the same time: anger, disbelief, wanting to get into bed and pull the covers up. All these emotions went into the first song, 'Comfort Me' — and that was just the beginning."

Chocolate MomentThere are haunted and delicate moments on "Comfort Me." Notes from Tuck's guitar glisten behind the smoky intensity of Patti's vocal: "All my illusions have been shattered/crumbled down in smoke and glass/and I need someone to help me understand." But then, with rising strength: "I can't lay down in despair/'cause I know that there are people who need my help out there. ... If peace is an option, why don't we take it/I love all my people, I won't forsake them."

And with that, a journey begins, on which we learn that the beauties we had once taken for granted seem even more beautiful now. On "Wildflower," Tuck's guitar purrs and stretches behind Patti's hymn to the "mystical miracle" of women who "take their time" and endure "like a wildflower, growing in the rocks and in the sand." The mood perks up on "Rejoice," a carnival of delicate rhythms and scatted invitations to "wave all of our sorrows goodbye." There are songs that take us back to innocent childhood ("All For One"), or sink into a lazy daydream ("Reverie"), or maybe roll their eyes to some fine thing walking down the street and into our hearts, even if only for just one "Chocolate Moment."

"For me," Patti says, "a chocolate moment is that second where you eat that great piece of chocolate, and you're just going ... mmmm! Then it started becoming about a person who reminds us of that feeling, or gives it to us. That's when I knew I had to call the whole album Chocolate Moment, because in light of all the intensity that we've been experiencing, I thought it was time to slow down and savor that moment."

The genius of Tuck & Patti assures that each of these moments is distinct, like one breath separated from another, yet it all flows in a single current. Its source, according to Tuck, is the decision he and Patti made years ago to pursue their art within limitations other musicians would consider severe. "Because it's just the two of us, we're probably halfway crazy from getting so far into each detail," he admits. "And after you decide to do only what you can do with a live voice and a live guitar, without turning tone controls or adding effects, the next step is to pretend that each song we do is the only song in the world and treat it with that kind of respect. That has also supported Patti's compositional process: Each song becomes its own little universe."

These universes, and the unity they achieve on Chocolate Moment, are the duo's greatest triumph to date — an affirmation of the beliefs that sustain them in music and in life. "It's not like the blues isn't great, or that there isn't a place for Rage Against The Machine," Patti says. "But these songs are truly my thoughts. It is so necessary to find the best side of everything, especially in the dark of the moment."

The point? Even the darkest moment is just one shade away from becoming a Chocolate Moment. Have a taste ...

To download a Microsoft Word document version of this biography, click here.

Contact Information:

T&P Productions/T&P Records: info@tuckandpatti.com
Phone: 650-327-4036

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