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Tierney Sutton: Blue in Green

Tierney Sutton follows last year’s excellent Unsung Heroes with a collection of songs that Bill Evans played and, in many cases, wrote. Her cool, controlled soprano is a fine vehicle for the pianist’s ballads. Sutton’s technique, particularly her command of pitch and time, makes the challenges of “Blue in Green,” “Turn Out the Stars” and “We Will Meet Again” seem easily overcome, which they are not. When Gene Lees’ lyrics were added to it, “Turn Out the Stars” became as fine an art song about grief as the 20th century produced. Approaching it from the wrong angle, underlining it, interpreting it, a singer could make it mawkish or trite. Sutton has the intelligence to add nothing to the song. She has the vocal equipment and taste to be its medium. In one simple chorus, she lets the song sing itself.

Softly, she pays close attention to the meaning of the lyrics of “Very Early” without being stretched by the demands of the wide intervals. The melodies of “Waltz for Debby” and “Tiffany” make sense in a medley, and Sutton sings them beautifully, but “Debby”‘s lyrics are poetry and “Tiffany”‘s are not. The contrast is jarring. It might have been wiser to leave “Tiffany” aside. In uptempo pieces, including “Autumn Leaves,” “Someday My Prince Will Come” and “Just You, Just Me,” Sutton sings out, with a nice sense of swing and plenty of power in reserve. Always, she is impeccably in tune. She scats a bit, which, I suppose, is the hip thing to do if you’re a jazz singer, but she doesn’t need it. She’s a singer.

As in Unsung Heroes, Sutton gets sensitive support from pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker (with Joe LaBarbera subbing or guesting on one track). Bill Evans components are parts of Jacob’s intriguing style, but only parts. His solos here show why he’s turning so many heads.

Originally Published