With a title like Desire, it seems reasonable to expect an album filled with passionate yearning. Wrong definition. Sutton and her bandmates mean “desire” in the aspiration sense. As Sutton explains, “This record is about stepping back and recognizing the difference between the voices we hear that are not our own and the ones that are truly within us, and discovering that the material things that we want or desire are not usually a path to happiness, and are not usually a path to ourselves.”
Such an approach to jazz standards is, adds Sutton, nothing new for her and her longtime colleagues: pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker. It is a spiritual philosophy that has resonated in the background of all their recordings and performances. Now they’re bringing it to the forefront. Opening and closing with inspirational lines from sacred Baha’i texts, Sutton and company spend an hour alternating between dark and light sentiments, weighing tunes fueled by avarice, greed and selfishness—“Long Daddy Green,” “Whatever Lola Wants,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”—against the purity of “Heart’s Desire,” “Then I’ll Be Tired of You,” “Skylark” and such.
Given their impeccable track record, it comes as no surprise that all of this is accomplished with the utmost discernment and skill. Now, though, there’s the added thrill of hearing them achieve a mystical sort of reverse alchemy, transforming Tin Pan Alley gold into inspirational principles of peace and well-being.