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VOCAL RINGER OF THE YEAR? Tierney Sutton: After Blue - Jazz Weekly

I’ve looked at Joni from both sides now

From pop and blues, and still somehow

It’s Joni’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know Joni…at all

I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, and what was most fascinating about her as they she seemed to record whatever she wanted, and really didn’t care what you thought about it. Her folk albums are top notch, and just when you had her lock some hip Mingus sessions with Jaco Pastorious and Peter Erskine before REALLY going into esoteric. This album by vocalist Tierney Sutton captures an impressive amount of the colors of Mitchell’s multi-hued rainbow, with her in the environs of a string quartet, jazz band, drummer, piano and guitarist through various duet and small group permutations.

The Turtle Island String Quartet brings forth wondrously atmospheric support for Sutton on “Blue” and “Little Green,” while the swinging end of the spectrum is provided by a hip duet with Al Jarreau along with B3er Larry Goldings on “Be Cool.” Hubert Laws’ flute floats ecstatically to Erskine’s drums while Sutton sways to “The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines.” As good as the ensemble pieces are, it’s the duets that get the trophy. A swinging take with drummer Ralph Humphrey on “Big Yellow Taxi” is riveting, her reading of “Answer Me, My Love” with guitarist Serge Merlaud is vulnerability at its and the piano dance with Goldings on “Court And Spark” draws you in with its intimacy.

The thing that’s even more amazing is that Sutton sound more youthful, clear and articulate on these takes that Mitchell did by spotting her at least  a score of years. Kudos for a healthy lifestyle and not smoking! By the way, the mix of “April in Paris” with “Free Man in Paris” that closes the album closes the deal on the perfect presentation here. Up there in the running for vocal album of the year.

George W. Harris


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