How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
I have to admit that, for very superficial reasons, I did not have high expectations for Sue Tucker's Meant for You. An unknown Minnesota-based singer performing standards on a CD produced, engineered, manufactured and distributed by the singer and her husband. It had the feel of a housewife's vanity project. The CD packaging is not exactly eye-catching, and I recognize that this is ridiculous, but even her name sounded boring.
However, I'm pleased to report that there is nothing boring about the music on Meant for You. Sue Tucker is a wonderful singer. Not just better than expected or good for an unknown singer, but straight out wonderful. As with every good jazz singer, Ms. Tucker has the fundamentals down - she sings in tune and she swings hard. Her voice has a light, unforced, attractive tone. Stylistically, she falls into the traditional jazz singing school. The standards are not in 12/8 time and you won't find any rock tunes in her repertoire. There are no radical reinterpretations of standards or bold expansions of the art of jazz singing. She doesn't vocalize instrumental solos or even scat. Rather than sounding like Ella or Sarah or Anita, Ms. Tucker's style is more reminiscent of great classic jazz singers like Mildred Bailey and Connee Boswell. She improvises within the words adhering closely to the melody at first and then building on and expanding her variations as the tune progresses. Her relaxed, understated phrasing breathes new life into "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and "I've Got the World on a String." Ms. Tucker builds genuine excitement on "Too Close for Comfort" and "Undecided" without resorting to overheated theatrics. Her sensitive, thoughtful interpretations of "The Very Thought of You" and "Blame It On My Youth" demonstrate a deep appreciation for the meaning of lyrics. The album's highpoint comes in a sexy, swinging, unmissable version of "Sugar" (the Stanley Turrentine tune not the Maceo Pinkard tune associated with Lee Wiley).
Sue Tucker is a singer who shouldn't have to make her own records. She deserves the support of a good record label and the opportunity to be heard by the national jazz audience.
Track Listing: A Foggy Day, You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To, Sugar, Easy Street, I've Got the World on a String, The Very Thought of You, Too Close for Comfort, Undecided, Blame It On My Youth, Waltz for Debby, and Meant for You
Personnel: Sue Tucker: vocals; Jim Oatts: trumpet/fugelhorn; Doug Haining: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet; Kent Saunders: guitar; Rick Carlson: piano; Gordy Johnson: bass; Steve Pikal: bass; Gordy Knudtson: drums; Brett Forberg: drums; Ricky Peterson: piano.