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Jazz Music’s Review of Notes from the Frontier

C.J. Bond | Jazz Music: “Sutton and her amazing band satisfy, inspire, entertain, and energize over the course of 12 captivating songs … leaving no doubt that this versatile, exciting talent can effectively interpret any lyric she finds on her “Musical Journey.”

Notes From The Frontier – A Musical Journey is really centered on the innovative spirit, creative imagination, and driving force that describe this very accomplished song stylist who has paid more than her share of ‘dues,’ and elicits the exclamation: OMG! She’s good!

Sutton and her amazing band satisfy, inspire, entertain, and energize over the course of 12 captivating songs starting with (Summertime); one of Gershwin’s finest from “Porgy and Bess.” The first song she auditioned as a young singer, and Sutton admits “it was a terrifying experience…” Such an experience is never easily forgotten, however Sutton, with time, has built on it, and now without trepidation, delivers the magnificence in Gershwin’s classical voicings, while the band’s comprehensive instrumentation (piano, cello, bass) earnestly recreates the distinctive Southern jazz feel of the period.

Sutton journeys through two of her symbiotic inner worlds; one personal, the other musical, and elaborates honestly and profoundly on what she finds. Sutton’s intuitive ability to ‘hear’ matches the cutting edge fidelity of her undisturbed, active imagination, as evidenced in the conspicuous contrast (Hummingbird/Blue Rondo a la Turk) between her blended aerial lyric, and the evanescent 9/8 time signature of Brubeck’s 1959 Turkish inspired jazz standard that captures, from Sutton’s inner musical lens, a blue grass image of the winged flight of a hummingbird; then exposed into the varying, non-linear colors of Paul Chester’s guitar, Ilya Janos’ percussion, Anthony Sapps’ electric bass, and Lyndon Hughes/Cindy Scott background vocals. “The most mashed-up song on the CD” (Sutton).

Sutton adds alluring color to her singing style in her “sweet bluesy cry” that was a signature of the late Phoebe Snow (Summertime; Lady of the Harbor; Where the Music Comes From), combined with the band’s eclectic instrumentation, to produce an album rich in shifting hues and moods; Aralee Dorough’s comforting flute, and Max Dyer’s sustaining cello (Jenny Rebecca), as Sutton interprets the simple lyric with the outstretched, sweet promise of hope, joy and love for newborns everywhere. Sutton sings with deep tenderness, and moving sentiment; poignantly reconciling the maternal and artistic impulses that inform her symbiotic inner worlds; the open trumpet of Eddie Lewis painting the outline of a looming, unknown frontier (Freed), while Sutton’s voice cries for that desire for ‘freedom’ lingering deep within the souls of men and women everywhere; Anthony Sapp’s dark, deeply unnerving electric bass work (Weary Angel); and Paul Chester’s ‘blue’ banjo chords, alloyed with the ‘longing and lost’ response from Bob Chadwick’s Irish flute, supporting Sutton over the heartbroken melancholy of (Blue Mountain).

Sutton takes a walk backwards into her life (One and Only) to express some of the pain, hurt, need for forgiveness, and change that accrue to all who find love, lose it, and hope for a second chance. Its and old, lone story told through new emotions. Paul Chester’s guitar, and Eddie Lewis’ flugelhorn drip with deep lament, and pathos, yet Sutton manages to reveal a personal, inner calm, and sense of resolve that turns the song into one of the most moving and emotional of the date.

There are hints of quiet smouldering passion, intrigue, and fascinating versatility lurking in the contiguous edges of Sutton’s inner musical frontiers that surface (Nature Boy) in her effective Spanish/English interpretation of Eden Ahbez’s mysterious 1947 lyric. Sutton seems aware of the classical underpinning of the song’s melodic structure – Antonin Dvorak’s piano quintet #2 in A, Op. 81, and embellishes her ending in the upper pitch range of her robustly endowed classical voice.

Sutton keeps one of her real gems for the finale and shows her cool, hip, jazzy, side, swinging through Bill Loughborough/Dave Wheat’s (Better Than Anything), and leaving no doubt that this versatile, exciting talent can effectively interpret any lyric she finds on her “Musical Journey.”

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