Tierney Sutton is neither a "snake charmer" (in 1940s parlance), nor a "chanteuse" (in anemic 21st century vernacular). She is a jazz singer (to the moronic print and advertising media who ineffectually write about her as if her talent were mere aptitude). Ms. Sutton is no stranger to the electrons floating in this space (nor to this critic). She is very much a living, breathing artist existing just short of exultation. She stormed the jazz scene in 1998 with a win at the Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition, recorded her Telarc debut, Unsung Heroes
in 2000, and never looked back. Since then, she has made two more recordings
, well received and betraying an acute talent that cannot be minimized by poor promotion or critical evaluation.
On her fourth Telarc recording (her fifth overall), Ms. Sutton turns her attention to the Frank Sinatra songbook. Spurred on by her longtime trio, Ms. Sutton highlights some surprises from the songbook. There is no "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," "Angel Eyes," or "In The Wee Small Hours" on this recording. The expected staples include "Last Night When We Were Young" and "Fly Me To The Moon," while the remaining pieces come from Sinatra’s "dark corners."
"What’ll I Do" opens the disc with a beautifully strange bass rondo by Trey Henry that extends halfway through the first chorus before transforming into a slow, lush kiss with Christian Jacob’s impressionistic pianism. The band unites in a perfect ballad tempo, slow and considerate. Flying on a plush set of strings arranged and conducted by Jacob, Ms. Sutton coos her way through this Irving Berlin standard. In a perfect way, "What’ll I Do" sets the stage for the rest of the recording.
With daring and bold arrangements, Ms. Sutton and her band redefine jazz vocals in a manner just to the right of what Cassandra Wilson has done in the past number of years. Tierney Sutton chooses to pioneer new inroads in jazz vocals with the standard instruments, choosing inventive and bright arrangements where Ms. Wilson does the same with less standard instrumentation. "Fly Me to the Moon" is not the bouncy lyric of Sinatra as much as it is a fast, hip lullaby. "Where or When" is much the same way, opened by Henry with accents by Jacob and drummer Brinker.
Dancing in the Dark is a super tribute to both Ms. Sutton and Mr. Sinatra.
For more information, visit Tierney Sutton and Telarc Jazz on the web.
This and all pieces published in December 2003 are dedicated to my late father, Norman L. Bailey (1915-2003).