"I'm With the Band"
Singer Tierney Sutton isn't merely "with the band" on her recent live CD. She and her group often sound inseparable, especially when her hornlike phrasing suggests the presence of a bop-bred trumpeter weaving through the contours of an imaginatively altered chord progression.
It helps, of course, that Sutton has toured with the same musicians for many years and developed a concert program laced with challenging and intricately woven arrangements. While her studio recordings frequently emphasize the more soulful and sublime aspects of her repertoire -- witness her tributes to Frank Sinatra ("Dancing in the Dark") and pianist Bill Evans ("Blue in Green") -- this Manhattan club date, recorded last March at Birdland, has a wide lens focus. It spans purely romantic ballads ("On My Way to You"); unusually sultry makeovers ("Let's Face the Music and Dance"); racing, brushstroked tempos (" 'S Wonderful"); and nonchalant swing ("Devil May Care").
As always, Sutton's taste is as evident as her talent. Among the tunesmiths represented are Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Richard Rodgers and Henry Mancini. The singer and her exceptionally well-matched bandmates -- pianist Christian Jacob, drummer Ray Brinker and bassists Kevin Axt and Trey Henry -- aren't hesitant to take liberties with their songs, but even when the arrangements sound vibrantly spontaneous, there's no mistaking the finely honed musicianship that went into creating something that sounds fresh and engaging.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Friday and Saturday at Blues Alley.