Song stylist shows range, versatility
Tierney Sutton is one of the finest song stylists in the business. Because Sutton is a stylist, she is not always content to come straight on at the lyrics unless it’s a ballad, but she has mastered the art of key and tempo changes and rearranging melodies to suit her fancy.
This is her third release on the Telarc imprint, and it is less cerebral than either “Green On Green:” or “Unsung Heroes.” Both of the previous issues were instrumental-based, whereas this one is much closer to a program you would hear in a typical Sutton concert or club date.
And there is a good chance the disc will have broader appeal than the two predecessors.
Once again, the songstress is accompanied by the three musicians who have been with her for the last nine years, pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry, and drummer Ray Brinker. And a combination of good taste and big ears make the three of them ideal companions for Sutton.
Though the songs may come from down main street, the performance of them is unadulterated Sutton. Few singers get any more involved with lyrics than she does, nor do many entertainers sing with her intensity.
And what is just as important, Sutton makes each song her own. Put another way: for Sutton, interpretation supplants recitation.
Sutton sets the table for the full menu with a sultry take of “Route 66” remindful of Peggy Lee’s way with the lyrics. Next up is a toasty-warm reading of the June Christy signature song, “Something Cool,” following which the singer stretches phrases and generally puts her own stamp on a swinging version of “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely.”
Her crystalline voice and admirable range stand her in good stead on the ballads “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face” and Ellington’s “Reflections,” as well as “Out of This World,” a song that has scuttled lesser singing talents.
On the flip side of the coin, Sutton scats and swings through “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” that shows you just how well the blond beauty handles tempo changes.
Her program also includes a in-your-face reading of “Show Me” that sizzles, “All or Nothing at All,” set to a samba beat, and, of all things, two songs associated with western thrush Patsy Cline: the jaunty “Walkin'” and the plaintive. “Crazy.”
In short, Sutton puts no limit on herself or the breadth of her repertoire. She is truly an exceptional singer.
Her pitch is always on the mark and her phrasing is impeccable. And this recording should go along way to make more jazz fans aware of her immense talent.
Cam Miller is a freelance jazz critic in Lake Wildwood. You may write to him care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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