by Constance Tucker
Vocalist Sam Fazio has relished in recreated jazz and pop classics with a flourishing career in the Chicago music scene. On his latest outing, he has Let’s Go, he has collaborated with the legendary duo Tuck (Andress) & Patti (Cathcart), who not only produced the album but also guided and mixed his latest release. Fazio has continued to push forward in his burgeoning career, Tuck & Patti are a perfect meld with Fazio, like Fazio they too have taken on pop classics and created lasting renditions.
The album features songs that are near and dear to Fazio’s heart, with no genre barriers. The album traverses the beautiful interaction of a duet setting, to the energy of a full rhythm section. Each arrangement is thoughtful and accentuates Fazio’s masculine, yet buoyant voice. On Let’s Go, Fazio steps forward as a songwriter, including covering an original crafted by Cathcart and Andress. On “Share My Life” Tuck teams up in a duo setting on guitar and “Eleanor Rigby,” he can be heard on bass. Not to be missed is “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” where Cathcart can be heard adding her luscious vocal adornment. The album also includes Chicago favorites Chris White on piano and Tim Fitzgerald on guitar with a well-oiled San Francisco rhythm section of Leon Joyce on drums, Ron Belcher on bass, and James Henry on percussion.
The album opens with “Pure Imagination,” a timeless classic best known for its feature in the epic 1971 blockbuster, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Fazio’s voice is full, supple, and filled with wonderment. Fazio is joined by White on piano and Michael Peloquin on harmonica. Fazio has a strong command of his lower and upper register and conveys the lyric with reverence for the Gene Wilder rendition. Peloquin is the featured soloist on this cut, he utilizes his instrument to the full extent, weaving through each nuance of the melody with a lilting style that accentuates the melody’s beauties. Equally, White outlines comprehensive and supportive accompaniment complimentary to Fazio’s capable resonating voice.
Fazio is not an overly ornamented vocalist; he caresses each lyric and melody with his incandescent vocal style. This quality is ever-present on “Superstar,” a moody and darkened ballad. The tune was written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell with a songwriting credit also given to Delaney Bramlett that has been a hit for many artists in different genres and interpretations in the years since; the best-known version was by The Carpenters in 1971. Fazio’s version is spacious instrumentation of Fazio and White. Fazio approaches the tune in a more measured fashion, with far less vibrato and sustain than Karen Carpenter’s version. His rendition focuses on a darker, less sunny approach, which gives the tune more of a heartbreak emotive. White also approaches the song with lower registered ornamentation and flourishes of shadowy note choices.
Fazio can best be summed up as a song stylist, whether tackling originals or winsome popular tunes, he approaches each song with a likable vocal quality and veneration for the original versions. Each cut is a journey of memorable classics that have touched our lives through movies or soundtracks of our youth. His originals couple nicely rounding out Let’s Go as a delightful summer soundtrack.
Pure Imagination (Lyrics)
Come with me and you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you’ll see
Into your imagination
We’ll begin with a spin
Traveling in the world of my creation
What we’ll see will defy explanation
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing to it
There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there, you’ll be free, if you truly wish to be