Pat Tandy

Zan Stewart is The Star-Ledger’s jazz writer. He is also a musician who occasionally performs at local clubs. He may be reached at zstewart@starledger.com or at (973) 324-9930
Madame Pat Tandy
It doesn’t take but a few phrases of a song to hear that singer Pat Tandy has something special.
Take the way she applied her glowing, rich voice to the blues classic “Early in the Mornin'” to close her show with reedman David Aaron’s trio last Friday at Johnny’s on the Green in Short Hills. Each line had so much vocal and rhythmic juice you couldn’t help but get with the music, move to it — as the statuesque Tandy did, dancing as she sang.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Tandy has lived in Newark most of her life and performs there Friday at The Priory. One of the many styles of music she reveres is the blues.
“Oh, man, the feeling in it, everybody loves the blues,” said Tandy, who has been singing professionally since the 1960s, when she worked with such New Jersey-based R&B vocal groups as The Pretenders, which had some minor hits on the Carnival label.
“I can put those blues tunes down pretty good. Some are happy, some sad,” said the singer who gave her age as “39.95,” followed by a hearty laugh.
Tandy — who works with the appellation “Madame” (“I have to tell people I don’t own a brothel,” she cracked) — has a bevy of blues in her repertoire. One other is “Big Fat Daddy.” “That’s about a big fat guy this lady wants, like a T-bone steak,” she said, then laughed.
Given her background, Tandy also drops R&B favorites into her shows. “There’s lots of good music still out there,” she said, talking about songs like Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” which she does with a jazz feeling.
Tandy was always interested in jazz, but really started to dig deep as a student at Essex County College in the early 1980s. There, she studied with, then performed with, former Ellington bass great Aaron Bell. She played with Bell until around his death in 2003.
Among the standards associated with jazz she offers are “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “Misty,” which she swings. “That groove, I just love it,” said the singer who appeared Off-Broadway in “Good Time Blues” and “Billie” in 2002-03.
Any Tandy show will include its share of ballads, say “At Last” or “Here’s to Life.” “I can put my soul into a ballad, bring out the meaning, let other people feel what the song is about,” she said.
Such notables as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Gloria Lynne have influenced Tandy, but she’s come out as her own singer. “I take a piece of all the people that I love, and put my own spin on it,” she said.