Patty Waters Sings

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The New York Times, Sunday, March 19 2006

Playlist, Ben Ratliff

Patty Waters
Released late last year, “You Thrill Me” (Water) collects demos and oddments from the personal collection of the jazz singer Patty Waters, who became famous in the New York jazz underground for raising her mellowed-out voice to a five-alarm shriek in her 1965 recording of “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” These recordings are from before and after that time, and in many cases the performances are better, with surer pitch and stronger delivery: demos for Columbia in 1964; studio tracks from 1960, 1970 and later. Ms. Waters used to be a question mark, but here's the evolution: early on there was some rigorous studying of Ella Fitzgerald; later she passed through Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, before finding her own frequency of breathy, blissed-out anomie (and the tumultuous vocal freakouts that you won’t find here); then she went back to more stylized singing that was richer and more commanding for the search she undertook. She’s broader and deeper than many might have known.