Patty Waters Sings
Patty Waters has been recognized for her ability to reach a depth of emotion in her singing which is unique in the world of jazz.
Photo by Will Wallace
- Patty Waters Sings on ESP Disk 1025
- College Tour on ESP Disk 1055
- Love Songs on Jazz Focus Records w/Jessica Williams
- You Thrill Me on Water Records 137
- Happiness is A Thing Called Joe on DBK Works 523
- Patty Waters' Complete ESP Disk Recordings 4019
Patty Waters recorded two fantastic records for New York’s original avant-garde label ESP-Disk in the mid-60s. “College Tour” was her second for ESP and her final album, period, before fading into obscurity. Since that time however, her stature as innovator has continued to grow. She was one of the first female singers to explore extended vocal technique in a purely experimental setting, before Yoko Ono, Diamanda Galas, et al. She was recommended to the label by none other than Albert Ayler himself. For these recordings she had fully embraced the prevailing underground aesthetic towards spontaneous improvisation.
With a reputation based on her two 1960s ESP Disk recordings, “Patty Waters Sings” and “Patty Waters College Tour,” she’s often referred to as “legendary.”
Her recording of “Black is The Color of My True Love’s Hair” was, and still is, considered a historic event in jazz.
Jazz critics were excited, calling it “unique” and “a must hear.” Rolling Stone wrote: “One really ought to hip oneself to the art of Patty Waters,” “haunting melancholia”, and “the best fucking singer alive.” The Village Voice wrote: “A sound contour never before heard in American music and poetry.” Woodstock News wrote: “Integrity of a sort few performers attain.” Downbeat Magazine critics in the 60s and 70s voted for her in both “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” and “Established Singer” categories. In Downbeat's “International Jazz Critics Poll” of 1967, she'd have won first place with one more vote. And "Patty Waters College Tour,” in 1970, won 2nd place vocal recording in Jazz and Pop Magazine.
She has received favorable mention in various books on jazz including “Stormy Weather, A century of Jazz Women” and “Music and Politics.” Her recording of “Black is the Color...” was used in a French film in 1970.
ESP Disk has been available through Tower Records worldwide since 1965, selling primarily in Europe, Japan, Canada, and the USA coasts. While traveling in Europe in 1968, she noticed her albums on display in record store windows in both Amsterdam and London. For awhile, in the late 70s, while her albums were “out of print,” they were selling in New York City for $50 and $75. Then, BASE record in Milan, Italy, reissued her vinyl albums in 1981 through 1985. The vinyl have been again reissued by Get Back of Italy.
CDs of the ESP catalog were issued in 1992 by ZYX out of Germany, and critics again responded enthusiastically. When her two albums were reissued as CDs, Tower Records in Tokyo, Japan, devoted an entire window to her. In 1993, in San Francisco, a CD and album signing was held for her. The huge crowd were jazz fans, record collectors, writers, poets, and alternative music fans.
Calibre in the Netherlands reissued the Patty Waters Sings CD in recent years, also.
From her childhood In Iowa, singing and traveling in her teens, to living In Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, then moving to New York City in late 1964, Patty's focus was on music. She's traveled throughout Europe and Morocco and lived a summer in Montreal, Canada.
While in New York, she was invited to sing as a guest with Bill Evans at the Village
Vanguard, with Chic Corea at Minton's, with Walter Davis Jr. at Slug's, with John Hicks at the Five Spot, with Jaki Byard, Sir Roland Hanna, Ben Webster and Charles Mingus at various times at the Five Spot, and sang with Herbie Hancock at his home.
She worked in an Upper East Side supper club with Richard Wyands and George Joyner, made a Jax beer commercial with Joe Newman, and performed with the big band of Warren Smith.
Then Albert Ayler took her to ESP Disk. She recorded “Sings” in December 1965 and “College Tour” in May 1966, performed with the Burton Greene Trio at the Woodstock Playhouse, with Ran Blake at the Fillmore East, with the Marion Brown Group at the Cellars in Montreal, with Guiseppi Logan and Mazette Watts groups in Tompkins Square Park, and recorded “Lonely Woman” on the Savoy label with the Marzette Watts Ensemble produced by Bill Dixon.
When her son was born in 1969, she moved to Mill Valley, California. She has since
performed only occasionally with musicians such as Art Lande, Steve Swallow, and Elliott Zigmund at the Berkeley Museum of Modern Art and at the old Keystone Korner in San Francisco.
In 1996, Patty recorded a CD of jazz standards with Jessica Williams for Jazz Focus Records in Canada. It received favorable reviews from critics worldwide. Patty has since appeared with Jessica at the Jazz Store in Carmel, California, she has performed in concert in Palo Alto, California, in San Francisco, California, at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1999, at the Vision Festival in New York City in 2003, at the Le Weekend Jazz Festival in Stirling, Scotland, with Burton Greene. Water Records released a CD titled “You Thrill Me” in 2004 and DBK Works released “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe” in 2005. In March 2006, Patty sang with bassist Henry Grimes at the Kraak Jazz Festival in Belgium and at Two Art Galleries in Paris, France, Les 7 Lezards and L'Atelier Tampen-Ramier.
Her life is currently spent living between California and Hawaii.