The Tierney Sutton Band: New York City, July 24, 2011

Nick Catalano By

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Tierney Sutton Band
Dizzy's Club Coca Cola
New York City, NY
July 24, 2011

Fresh from conquests in Geneva, The Tierney Sutton Band roared into town in the midst of a record New York heat wave and revealed more of its unique trademark arrangements. The band's continuing pattern of standard song deconstruction continues to pay large dividends as it cunningly finds subtle new ways to interpret established composers. At this outing Gershwin, Berlin, Mancini, and Rodgers and Hart were among the legendary writers whose music was reenergized to the delight of a packed house.

Typically, Sutton's band utilizes its creative scalpel by initially eradicating a standard's traditional tempo associations and initiating new cadences, often with each instrument employing a different time signature. Sutton's singing and phrasing is pivotal, delivered with uncanny precision. This structure might last for the first 16 measures with a traditional bridge rhythm following. Then the last 16 bars will contain more explosive new rhythms. Familiar rhythm styles, like samba, rock, swing, are quoted briefly, but new quotes follow instantly lest the audience get too comfortable. The result is dramatic and dazzling.

The act of creative sharing in the band was distinctive. The instrumental trio did not perform the usual backup music for a star vocalist; throughout the performance there was a constant dialogue between all four artists, some of it the familiar call-and-response of the past, but more often group conversations with innovative punctuations. Pianist Christian Jacob countered Sutton's phrasing with constant key changes and atonal passages. Bassist Kevin Axt poured out notes from the amp of his solid-body instrument with such languorous clarity that it sounded as if there was another vocalist back there. Guest drummer Ralph Humphrey (a regular on the TV show Dancing With The Stars) was constantly lauded by Sutton for instantly learning the music of over 140 charts from her prolix book with such expertise. His contribution to the band's conversation was memorable.

The repertoire was thoughtfully chosen, and highlighted by an Irving Berlin medley and two sultry ballads. The medley covered "Let's Face The Music And Dance," "Dancing Cheek To Cheek," and "Blue Skies," with particularly singular deconstruction. Despite the experimental cadences and phrasing, the band succeeded in establishing a stylistic flow and readily identifiable sound. The ballad following, Henry Mancini's "Two For The Road," was performed traditionally, with only piano accompaniment, contrasting nicely with the rest of the set's deconstruction.

The Tierney Sutton Band is preparing the release of its next CD, American Road (BFM), which is scheduled for September 6, 2011


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