Patti Wicks's Jazzy Turn at the Metropolitan Room


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The jazz singer and pianist Patti Wicks is all about rhythmic deconstruction. Like the much-missed Carmen McRae, Ms. Wicks, who appeared at the Metropolitan Room on Monday evening with the bassist Linc Milliman, scrutinizes songs with a raised eyebrow. Words and phrases are dismantled with a wry deliberation and an improvisatory boldness that put a question mark at the end of songs, especially when the lyrics are sentimental. Her attitude suggests a certain disbelief: “Oh, really?" she seems to imply.

Ms. Wicks was a regular presence in New York jazz clubs in the 1970s, accompanying singers like Anita O'Day, another rhythmic iconoclast whose vocal style she echoes. After time spent in Italy and southern Florida, she is back in New York, performing intermittently at the Metropolitan Room.

“By Myself" had the feel of a personal anthem of an independent woman. It followed “Where Do You Think You're Going?," a little-known Bart Howard song, once recorded by Johnny Mathis, that she treated as an ominous expression of suffocating co-dependence. Because Ms. Wicks has one of the deepest voices of all female jazz singers, the song's declaration, “You're mine alone," carried overtones of a threat.

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