Stephen Holden gave a review of Tierney Sutton's Birdland performance in the NY Times today. I can understand Mr. Holden's lukewarm position on the repertoire (for some reason, songs dealing with happiness are never my favorites either), but there's probably no other vocalist/group that I'd rather hear tackle these tunes than Tierney Sutton's band. They performed a number of these tunes in L.A. earlier this year with remarkable personal flair, including a brooding 10/4 version of "Happy Days Are Here Again" with lush, pop-influenced harmony.
Sutton's musical training is not limited to singing; she's studied her share of theory and harmony with Jerry Bergonzi and she's generally considered as much of an instrumentalist as a singer. When I interviewed her for a feature earlier this year, I asked what it was about jazz that intrigued her. She responded: "You know, I think, in a word, it’s tension. Jazz has a bittersweet quality that I think is really appealing to me based on how I experience the world, frankly, and based on what seems true to me. There’s so much tension in life and in an odd way, a lot of the deepest beauty in life comes from the tension." I'm looking forward to hearing the new album, ironic or optimistic.
She also made a keen point about a widely perceived "mythology" about jazz, as she put it, where the music seems to be "more of a spirit than a craft. And it's a craft." I couldn't agree more. When the Tierney Sutton Band comes through town again, make sure you see them. They're crafty. And spirited.