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Tierney Sutton: Paris Sessions 2 (BFM Jazz)

A review of the vocalist's self-produced sequel to her 2014 Grammy-nominated album

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Cover of Tierney Sutton album Paris Sessions 2
Cover of Tierney Sutton album Paris Sessions 2

Vocalist Tierney Sutton’s Berklee College of Music-honed phrasing and articulation have earned her notoriety and nine Grammy nominations since starting her recording career 25 years ago. Yet the Nebraska-born singer still seems deserving of wider recognition, not to mention an actual Grammy, after nods for gems from the live I’m With the Band (2005) to the film-music showcase Screen Play (2019). Sutton’s new, self-produced Paris Sessions 2 is the sequel to another nominated disc, Paris Sessions (2014).

Like its predecessor, the new release features the vocalist in a trio with French guitarist Serge Merlaud—who also became her husband in 2019—and Kevin Axt on acoustic bass, this time with contributions from renowned flutist Hubert Laws. Recorded after the couple’s marriage and during the COVID-19 lockdown, the results are sparse and intimate. Sutton’s releases have included impressive tributes to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Bill Evans, and Sting, and the opening duet medley of the standard “April in Paris” with Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris” pairs her nuanced delivery with Merlaud’s sparse, classically inflected lines.

Laws recorded from his home studio and stands out on five tracks, notably in echoing Sutton’s soaring vocals on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Zingaro.” Other highlights include the trio cut “Isn’t It a Pity” (by the Gershwins, not George Harrison, although the latter composition isn’t an unthinkable cover for Sutton), with a gorgeous Merlaud solo, and Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” likely one of the married couple’s theme songs and also featuring Laws. Paris Sessions 2 may not earn Sutton that elusive first Grammy, but given the popularity contests that seem to dictate the winners, a 10th nomination for this self-release might be even more impressive.

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Q&A: Tierney Sutton