142

Sunny Sumter: Sunny

Mathew Bahl By

Sign in to view read count
Sunny Sumter is a young Washington D.C. based singer who graduated from the jazz department at Howard University. Ms. Sumter is a gifted and well-trained singer. Her voice has a beautiful, vibratoless tone. She exhibits solid intonation, good articulation and clear diction. She also seems to understand the limits of her own voice, and, for the most part, stays clear of them. Her singing is marked by a quiet restraint that conveys intimacy rather than introversion. She has the taste to select good material and the confidence to improvise on it.

Ms. Sumter is backed by a formidable quintet augmented on three tracks by a five-piece string section. On two songs she is accompanied only by Larry Willis on piano. Mr. Willis’ graceful, mellifluous playing is a welcome presence throughout the disc, but especially on a beautifully framed, shimmering “Overjoyed.”

The concept of the album is hardly unique to jazz: a nearly all ballad set with strings. Unfortunately, it is a project that has come along several years too soon for Ms. Sumter. She does not yet have the dramatic or improvisational ability to hold a listener's interest over a whole sequence of extended ballads. She sings in short, clipped phrases and often stretches a single syllable over several notes. Both are difficult techniques that she has not quite mastered. As a result, Ms. Sumter sometimes parses lyrics in a way that distorts rather than enhances their meaning. The song then becomes a disconnected series of words instead of the expression of a specific point of view. Ballad singing lives or dies on the expressiveness of the singer and her ability to link words to real-life emotional experiences. Ms. Sumter may very well have lived the kind of life that would entitle her to sing "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," but she certainly doesn't sound like she has.

Still, Ms. Sumter's singing is never less than lovely and there are some exceptional moments on this CD that hold the promise of great things to come.


Track Listing: Nick of Time, Detour Ahead, I Fall in Love Too Easily, Jim, The Best is Yet to Come, Nobody Know the Trouble I

Personnel: Sunny Sumter, vocals; Larry Willis, piano; Joe Ford, saxophones; Keter Betts, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums; Steve Berrios, percussion; Rich Schmidt, violin; Tom Ginsberg, violin; Jennifer Rende, viola; Barbara Brown, cello; and Steve Novosel, bass.

| Record Label: Mapleshade Recordings | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Invisible Man" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Man
by Anthony Shaw
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "Atmosphères" CD/LP/Track Review Atmosphères
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 13, 2016
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "In Paris: The ORTF Recordings" CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The ORTF Recordings
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 2, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!