Sunday, May 27, 2018
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CD reviews: Tierney Sutton puts her own uptempo stamp on her latest compilation of jazz standards


Tierney Sutton (Telarc)

Jazz diva Tierney Sutton knows what makes great jazz. While many singers may be content to harmonize, Sutton is in sync with her talented trio. Forget about any separation between band and singer: There s no backdrop here as both play off each other.

Sutton uses her crisp enunciation skills and swift vocal gyrations to her advantage, rounding out a beautifully meshed jazz combo sound that s hard to beat.

She has as much tenderness and subtle power in her voice as anyone, but it s her fluid, natural feel for an uptempo beat that s most appealing. This disc, recorded at the famed Birdland in New York, is Sutton s fifth with Telarc and her first live recording.

It s largely a collection of ramped-up standards written by the likes of Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and Oscar Hammerstein.

Never less than a pleasant listening experience, I m With The Band is utterly hot when it reaches one of its several musical peaks.



Carrie Newcomer (Philo/Rounder)

These 13 new songs evolved from a single short story, Betty s Diner, written two years ago by Newcomer. With her 10th album, she fleshes out the characters who frequent that diner, and creates easy melodies set to light, and often lively accompaniment. That mix is the perfect vehicle to spin these down-to-basics yarns of life s experiences, hopes and realities, putting a face on the subjects that she creates.



Johnny Guitar Watson (Shout! Factory)

Johnny Guitar Watson started in the 50s as a blues man. From 1976 to 1981, he pumped out eight albums as his funky groove and stinging guitar leads were suddenly in vogue, and his cocky, ladies-man persona served as a model for acts like Prince and Rick James. This anthology mines Watson s funk years, pulling out tracks like A Real Mother For You, Superman Lover, and Gangster of Love that were perfect mixes of the blues and dance music. By the end of his run, some of his work had become tedious disc two of this set runs out of gas quickly but the best stuff is primo funk that never gets stale.



Various Artists (Commotion)

This soundtrack is an achievement if for no other reason than it s a lesson in how creative a project can be without dismissing extreme heavy metal music. The disc opens and ends with angry guitars, blood-pumping drums, and gutty electronica, both songs courtesy of Ministry. But unlike a lot of metal, there s no standard formula bloating the rest of the CD. The gritty-but-polished disc is strangely endearing, perhaps because it is so unconventional in how it mixes melancholy with a rough-hewn edge.



DOWN IN THE DELTA, Paul Oscher (Blues Fidelity) From 1967 to 1972, Oscher played harmonica for blues legend Muddy Waters, so it s not surprising that some of Waters washed over him. The guitar sound is similar, and the added harmonica work and Oscher s fine vocals make these 14 numbers an authentic Delta blues treat. K.R.

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