Suzanne Pittson

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About Suzanne Pittson


“OUT OF THE HUB: THE MUSIC OF FREDDIE HUBBARD,” Suzanne Pittson’s most recent recording (release: August 24, 2010), takes jazz vocals to a new level. While this recording demonstrates a perfect marriage of Hubbard’s music and Suzanne’s lyrics, it also showcases her amazing skill as an improvising jazz musician, with an astonishing technical facility, beautiful tone and phrasing, and unrelenting swing.

Suzanne was born into a musical family, and began piano lessons at age 8 with John Hiersoux, a student of a student of Franz Liszt. Though she played classical music, her family listened to jazz day and night. When she was very young, she performed a Schumann piece for Erroll Garner, a friend of the family, and he reciprocated by playing “Misty” on her piano at her request! Witnessing the creative freedom of this genius at an early age, no doubt instilled a profound curiosity of this magnificent art form.

Suzanne first fell in love with the music of the great trumpeter Freddie Hubbard while still in high school. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts in music as a classical pianist at San Francisco State University, where she performed as soloist and accompanist, and in various chamber ensembles. While in graduate school, she also began to study jazz. With years of piano training under her belt, she set out to explore the music of the modern horn players, transcribing and singing their solos. Hubbard’s unique harmonic language was of particular interest, and she determined to use it as a model for her own developing vocal improvisations.

In June of 2008, Suzanne and her husband, pianist Jeff Pittson, visited Freddie at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City to seek permission to record original lyrics to some of his compositions. While he was initially flattered, Freddie was not confident that a vocalist could sing his complex compositions and he requested a demo. Upon hearing the demo, Freddie enthusiastically approved the lyrics to five of his compositions, stating that he was very pleased and looked forward to hearing the recording. Ms. Pittson has expressed that the making of this CD with Freddie’s blessing was indeed a great honor and privilege.

“Out of the Hub: The Music of Freddie Hubbard” features some of the most dynamic jazz musicians on the New York City scene today. Along with Suzanne on vocals, the recording features Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Steve Wilson on alto and soprano saxophone, Jeff Pittson on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Willie Jones III on drums, with stunning arrangements by Jeff Pittson. The lyrics were a collective collaboration between Suzanne, Jeff and their son Evan, who also created the cover illustration and CD graphics. All of the original lyrics express ideas about life, music, love, joy, suffering, and fantasy, but always seek to find hope in the midst of crisis. The two vocalese lyrics on “Lament for Booker (Bright Sun) and “Crisis” (We’re Having a Crisis) - set to Freddie’s trumpet solos - are narratives based on their respective titles. “Lament for Booker” expresses praise and admiration for the great trumpeter Booker Little, who died at the age of 23, and the vocalese shows appreciation for the jazz legacy that our predecessors have helped to create. “Crisis” is an urgent cry for dialogue between people and cultures in order to resolve our world crisis.

“Out of the Hub: The Music of Freddie Hubbard” was recorded by Mike Marciano on August 26 & 27, 2008 at Systems Two in Brooklyn, New York and was mixed and mastered by Mike Marciano in April, 2009.

Suzanne Pittson is an exuberant, engaging and experienced performer. She has performed in the US and Europe at such major venues as Yoshi’s, Birdland, Catalina Bar and Grill, Town Hall, Symphony Space, Aaron Davis Hall, Cornelia Street Cafe, Enzo’s Jazz, and has performed and/or recorded with John Patitucci, Buster Williams, Dave Liebman, Mike Clark, Steve Wilson, Jeremy Pelt, Mark Soskin, Jack Walrath, Chip Jackson, Harvie S, and others. Ms. Pittson’s first recording, Blues and the Abstract Truth won strong praise from critics. Then in 1997, she set original lyrics to all four movements of John Coltrane’s seminal work, “A Love Supreme,” which she then recorded in 1999 on her second CD, Resolution: A Remembrance of John Coltrane. She is thus far the only vocalist to have sung the entire “A Love Supreme,” as noted in Ashley Kahn’s book, “A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album.”

Ms. Pittson is Assistant Professor of Jazz Vocal Studies at the City College of New York, and lives in Dobbs Ferry, NY with her husband Jeff and son Evan.

Suzanne Pittson joined the JazzTimes community on Aug 09, 2010