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After Blue

Tierney Sutton

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Album Review

Tierney Sutton claims she had never really encountered Joni Mitchell until she heard the songwriter's glorious 2000 album Both Sides Now, a collection comprised mainly of standards. (An album she holds in the same regard as Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours and Billie Holiday's Lady in Satin.) In 2011 she performed four of Mitchell's songs during a performance with the Turtle Island String Quartet; that gig set this project in motion. After Blue is Sutton's first offering that doesn’t include her regular band — its members were involved with other projects at the time. Instead, her collaborators are a collection of jazz luminaries who include Peter Erskine, Larry Goldings, Ralph Humphrey, Hubert Laws, the TISQ, and Al Jarreau, who duets on "Be Cool" (the only track to feature one of Sutton's own musicians, bassist Kevin Axt). Sutton reads Mitchell by moving through the songwriter's various creative periods, embracing the singer/songwriter's jazz leanings in her phrasing, improvisation, and syncopation, and their shared love of the Great American Songbook. This last notion is evidenced by Sutton's version of "Don’t Go to Strangers" and "Answer Me My Love," both of which Mitchell poignantly delivered on Both Sides Now. She also seamlessly melds closer "Freeman in Paris" with "April in Paris." Other standouts include "Blue" and "Little Green" with TISQ, the fingerpopping "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" with Laws, Erskine, and Goldings, and the swinging, thoroughly re-envisioned "Big Yellow Taxi." On "Both Sides Now," she is accompanied only by Mark Summer's cello. For those accustomed to hearing Sutton re-interpreting standards from the golden era, After Blue retains her trademark gifts of phrasing, restraint, and emotional honesty. But as an album, it is just as remarkable as Herbie Hancock's The Joni Letters in its creative rapprochement of Mitchell's music with the jazz tradition, and reveals Sutton at a vocal and interpretive peak.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic

Perhaps you need to be a Joni Mitchell fan to appreciate what Tierney has done with these tunes. Even back in the day, there were some who considered Joni's music a bit too "far out" but today she is considered one of THE top songwriters (and guitarists) of her time. Tierney has taken great care in arranging these songs to bring out their depth and complexity. I applaud her efforts along with all those who participated in this project. Bravo!

over and over again

Tierney Sutton has a the perfect voice and spirit to match Joni Mitchell's. Meaning not to match her spirit as much as to understand and relieve the depth of these songs with her capable spirit, the unknown American song book. Her arrangements / collaborations make this a series of songs which you want listen to over and over to fathom the complete creation of the artists performing on each. I highly recommend it.

Beautiful

Lacking in cliche, simply great.

Biography

Born: June 28, 1963 in Milwaukee, WI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A fine Los Angeles-based jazz singer, Tierney Sutton has a lot of potential for the future. She grew up in Milwaukee and attended Boston University and Wesleyan, where she gained a degree in Russian language and literature. At Wesleyan, Sutton became involved in singing jazz and after graduating she went to Berklee for a few semesters, studying under Jerry Bergonzi. In 1994 she moved to Los Angeles and has since become a fixture in the area's jazz scene. Sutton, who teaches voice at USC, often leads...
Full Bio

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