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Tierney Sutton Band in Detroit

Tierney Sutton

After 15 years together, Tierney Sutton and her band-pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker-seamlessly balance improvisational mastery with humility, empathy and humor. At their recent Detroit gig, they began their performance with a somber and pensive rendition of Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do?,” which Jacob set up with a thoughtful and reflective solo piano introduction that paved the way for the ostinato underpinning of Axt’s insistent bass figure and Brinker’s supple and deft cymbal and brush work. Perched prominently centerstage was Sutton, who commanded attention with her dramatic interaction of lyrical detail with illustrative hand and body movements.

From there it was an adventure in exploring the Great American Songbook, as Johnny Burke and Harry Warren’s “Devil May Care” came alive via Sutton’s finger snapping and vibrant scat singing. The band swung hard, supplying a propulsive bed on which the singer could liberally play with time and syncopation in her delivery.

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