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It's Wonderful

Susie Arioli

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Album Review

Even though this is the first album of her own, Susie Arioli is no newcomer to the vocal game. She has been performing in and around Montreal for several years, and the Susie Arioli Swing Band has also performed at the JVC Jazz Festival in New York. This maiden effort is a happy marriage of classic 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s standards with some non-jazz material. On the standards, Arioli follows firmly in the footsteps of such singers as Billie Holiday, Maxine Sullivan, Peggy Lee, and June Christy. Like them, no matter what she sings, Arioli conveys the lyrics of a song with sensitivity, understanding, and emotion — just what one might expect to hear from a top-flight vocal artist who knows what she's about.

Arioli's interpretation of "I Cover the Waterfront" is done with a combination of mournful loneliness and hopeful anticipation. In his only appearance, Aaron Doyle plays trumpet figures underneath Arioli to help her set the mood. The album's coda, "Blue Prelude," is reminiscent of Nancy Wilson's 1963 recording. Arioli's version matches Wilson's for the down-in-the-dumps feeling, which comes from the "pain in my soul" caused by terminal heartbreak. Arioli also puts her accomplished snare drum playing on display during the session. On the non-classic standard side, "The Big Hurt" and "It's Wonderful" sound like 1950s pop imports and something that Joni James would be comfortable singing. "Trying to Get to You" by rockabilly star Rose Marie McCoy shows a down-to-earth side of Arioli. Snippets of country swing sneak in on her renditions of "Lover Come Back to Me" and "If Dreams Come True," and it works.

The Susie Arioli Swing Band is augmented by guest guitarist Jordan Officer, who makes immense contributions to the proceedings. He plays an old-style Harmony guitar that gives off a deep, resonant sound, much like a bass pitched slightly higher than usual; the guitar sets off Arioli's voice very nicely. Officer's soloing and Arioli's vocalizing are made more eloquent by the strong presence of Michael Browne's outstanding rhythm guitar. This is a very entertaining CD and hopefully a forerunner of many others to follow. Recommended.

Biography

Born: Canada

Genre: Jazz

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

Canadian vocalist Susie Arioli was pretty much relegated to the musical fringes in Montreal and environs until she exploded upon the scene with the creation of her Swing Band in 1998. She and her group opened for Ray Charles at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and since then has been in the limelight, performing regularly at festivals, concerts, touring (including a stint in Washington, D.C.), and gigging in jazz venues in and around Quebec. Originally studying flute and then taking private...
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It's Wonderful, Susie Arioli
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