Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tierney Sutton Band: Desire

By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 7.2.09
Buy CD: Desire

It's showtime, folks!

This album is a wonderful combination of a masterful quartet and a vocalist unlike any you've ever heard before.

The surprising thing: Although the group has been together for 15 years, and this is its eighth CD since 1998, it's the first time I've heard them. Shame on me!

One also wishes the group received better publicity outside the East Coast area, where it works most of the time.

Sutton was born in Wisconsin in 1963 and attended Connecticut's Wesleyan College of Music and Boston's Berklee College of Music. She was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Vocal Competition in '98; her first album, released that same year, was nominated for the Indie Award for best jazz vocal album.

Several subsequent albums also have received nominations for Grammy and jazz vocal awards. Her voice is pitched higher — and she sings more softly — than most vocalists, but her style is second to none. Admittedly, much of that is due to the backing she receives from her wonderful quartet.

All the arrangements are the result of a total-group approach to each tune.

Christian Jacob is, without doubt, one of the best, most lyrical and swinging pianists I've heard since Oscar Peterson. Jacob was born in France in 1958, attended and eventually taught at Berklee, and has toured with luminaries such as Gary Burton and Maynard Ferguson. Jacob's early training was classical, and that's evident in his jazz work.

Two bassists (Trey Henry and Kevin Axt) are used, and both are excellent; drummer Ray Brinker completes this great group.

Believe me, you've never heard more clever arrangements of these 11 standards. After listening to the first track (“It's Only a Paper Moon”), you can't wait to hear what these musicians do to subsequent tunes such as “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” “Fever,” “Cry Me a River,” “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Skylark.” The listener's attention is riveted.

After sampling Desire, you'll want to get her other albums ... just like I do.

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