Tierney Sutton’s American Road (CR 73329) is an offbeat set of Americana ranging from folk songs to Gershwin and Bernstein.
One of the top American jazz singers of the past 20 years, Tierney Sutton has a beautiful voice and has always been an expert improviser. She also has performed for years with the same group of musicians: pianist Christian Jacob, drummer Ray Brinker and either Kevin Axt or Trey Henry on bass. While she is the dominant voice (pun intended) on all of her recordings, she gives her musicians near-equal billing.
American Road has Ms. Sutton interpreting a surprising repertoire that includes hymns from the 1800s, Americana, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Leonard Bernstein, and a couple of more recent songs. The arrangements are inventive and modern, transforming many of the pieces into songs that sound as if they were composed in the 21st century. Along the way she performs such material as “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Amazing Grace,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “On Broadway,” Harold Arlen’s obscure “The Eagle And Me” and “America The Beautiful.”
In addition to Tierney Sutton’s thoughtful and haunting voice, Christian Jacob (a brilliant player) contributes many concise piano solos. While the singer has occasionally sacrificed lyric content in the past during her more adventurous flights, that is not true on American Road, for here she really digs into the meaning of the words.
Full of subtle surprises, American Road is one of Tierney Sutton’s strongest recordings to date.