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Suzy Bogguss has had a very successful career in the contemporary country arena in the 1980s and ‘90s. Her debut recording for Liberty Records, Somewhere In Between, was critically well received and contains songs by Nashville and Austin royalty Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, and Merle Haggard. Ms. Bogguss today finds herself with a new label and a bit of a new direction.
This is not strictly a jazz record to be sure, and Suzy Bogguss is not the first artist to attempt to crossover into a jazz/swing genre. Where Ms. Bogguss chimes in with novelty is her foray into western swing. Joining Bogguss is Asleep At The Wheel’s Ray Benson, who exerts a great deal of creative control over the recording, casting the songs in a more commercially appealing light than a hard western swing one. The absence of the pedal steel guitar, long a western swing staple, is to be owed for this softer brand of this genre. Ms. Bogguss has a perfect voice for this material, and I would hazard to say a better voice than many of the recent vocal jazz recordings crossing my desk. She brings a complete package to the table.
Ms. Bogguss includes both standards and original compositions on the recording, all offered in a light swing style. Of the standards, Nat King Cole’s "Straighten Up and Fly Right," Ellington’s "Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear from Me," and Billie Holiday’s "Comes Love" are the most effective. But added to this palette are the more contemporary songs of April Barrows, including the very innovative and clever "Burning the Toast" and "Cupid Shots Us Both With One Arrow." Benson’s trademark guitar is present throughout and Jason Robert’s fiddle provides just enough of the swing in this western swing recording.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.