Thanks to Medley Inc., I got a mini-interview in Rolling Out magazine. They seem to think I’m about to release my 3rd CD soon. Not too much pressure, huh?
Name: Jacqui Sutton
Band: Frontier Jazz Orchestra
What inspired your album, Billie and Dolly?
I suffered a pulmonary embolism, something that someone my age should not have been experiencing. It was the result of working very long hours, leading a very sedentary lifestyle and lots of air travel. So in the spring of 2010, something told me to get serious about pursuing music. By summer of 2010, I was recording my debut CD, Billie & Dolly, which pays homage to my two favorite vocalists, Billie Holiday and Dolly Parton.
How would you describe your music style?
I have named it “Frontier Jazz,” which means predominantly jazz and bluegrass, but with elements of classical, musical theater and R&B mixed in. I have received positive reviews for having a sound that can hold up on its own without being forced or hokey.
What difficulties have you faced from this male-dominated field?
All of the musicians with the exception of my flutist are men, and I can say unequivocally that I have been treated with nothing but the greatest respect by them. I have in the past had the experience of musicians who look down on jazz vocalists because they are not considered real musicians. In order to prove yourself you must know theory and learn how to scat. I suppose there is still time to encounter some of that male resistance, but it hasn’t happened yet. In fact, women are now making major strides in the jazz horn world, especially saxophonists. For my part, I love the members of the Frontier Jazz Orchestra and hope I get to continue working with them.
I’m currently collaborating with composer Danny Ashkenasi on my third CD, which will be entitled American Anthem. This project stemmed from the anger and frustration that I felt with people constantly questioning President Obama’s nationality. It got me to thinking, “Who decides what an American is supposed to look like? Who’s anthem is it anyway? So I’m writing songs about poor, black Southern girls using their imaginations to overcome adversity, Appalachian coal miners, proud LGBT Americans, and many other groups. Obviously, it’s not possible to cover everyone, but I’m taking a stab at addressing as many as can fit in one CD!
For more information, please visit www.jacquisutton.com.
G. Edwards | Gapplegate Music Reviews: “The latest one by Jacqui Sutton, vocalist extraordinaire, is a kind of giant leap forward into a realm of creative Americana … It’s a generally excellent selection of surprises that straddle jazz, roots, country and all kinds of American elements juxtaposed with rather extraordinary arrangements.”
“The latest one by Jacqui Sutton, vocalist extraordinaire, is a kind of giant leap forward into a realm of creative Americana. Notes from the Frontier (Toy Blue Typewriter 002) brings together Jacqui’s very fully enacted vocals with the unusual instrumentation and sonic mix of her Frontier Jazz Orchestra–including cello, banjo, electric bass, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano, and so forth.
There are some Americana standards like Gershwin’s “Summertime,” and Ahbez’s “Nature Boy,” and unexpected things like a version of Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk” paired with “Hummingbird,” and neglected obscurities that have definitive voicings–“Lady of the Harbor” very much comes to and stays in the mind. It’s a generally excellent selection of surprises that straddle jazz, roots, country and all kinds of American elements juxtaposed with rather extraordinary arrangements. And a vocal performance by Jacqui that does the same with the vocals that the arrangements do to the instrumental backdrop–she combines ways of singing that extend our heritage and make it very new.
It’s the opposite of a ho-hum standards “jazz vocalist” release. It’s vivid, exciting and very innovative in ways that may well get her some airplay and positive attention.
I am an enthusiast, anyway! G. Edwards (March 2013)
Constance Tucker | All About Vocals: “Sutton and her amazing band satisfy, inspire, entertain, and energize over the course of 12 captivating songs …”
Jacqui Sutton the true voice of Americana Jazz. Though she has coined the phrase Frontier Jazz, her sound blends the elements of the best of all traditional elements into an updated hip and soulful sound that blurs the lines of Americana, Bluegrass and Jazz for a delightful fashioned sound that one can’t help but immediately enjoy.
Her debut, offering Billie & Dolly (Toy Blue Typewriter, 2010) celebrated two opposing yet connected figures as both were pioneering women in their own genres. A tribute to Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday certainly let the listener know that ordinary would never be Sutton’s approach. Now, with the release of Notes from the Frontier, this solidifies her path as a pioneer burgeoning a new sound that yes, has reminiscence but is truly her own brand.
A rootsy take on Gershwin’s “Summertime” takes the listener through a terrain of peaks and valleys musically, while vocally – Sutton uniquely ties a blend of dramatic Broadway attack, plucky rootsy grit and soulful straddles of jazz. “Weary Angel” has a powerful longing with a jazzy flavor mixed with swampy seduction. “Lady of the Harbor” twangs with American life-force, laced with Celtic vibrations of flute, keyboard, melodion, trombone, cello, bass, percussion, banjo and guitar.
Each cut exemplifies Sutton’s varied palette for music. Notes from the Frontier is an amalgam of American heritage, organic authenticity and the spirit of the heartland. Sutton eloquently blends the truest forms of Broadway, Americana, Folk, Bluegrass and Jazz into a lasting embodiment of American essence, a path I hope she continues to follow.