BEST OF 2013: J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part I

December 16th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg

By J Hunter

One of the “problems” with doing this thing on the radio – “Jazz2K” is also broadcast from 6-8pm on Tuesdays on WSPN (91.1FM), including this Tuesday’s (December 17) Best of 2013 edition – is that I have 60 or 70 discs to consider instead of 20 or 30. Whoever said, “Be careful what you wish for…” had a good point. Anyway, with the brand-new chainsaw I got for our anniversary (Thanks, honey! Love ya bunches!), I was able to cut the pile down to a Top 10 and eight outstanding “Honorable Mentions.” Let’s get the Honorables out of the way first – mainly because I need to get those bowling trophies off the mantle so we can hang the Festivus decorations:

Their performance at Freihofer’s felt like Saturday night during Mardi Gras, as opposed to the “jazz funerals” they’ve staged in the past. And it’s all thanks to That’s It, Preservation Hall’s first-ever all-originals release. Maybe My Morning Jacket’s Jim James produced the session, but there’s an Old School echo to the 11 studio tracks that makes them seem like gems from NOLA’s marvelously shady past. Even live takes on “Oh Liza” and “Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing” jump around like newborn colts. This righteous set is Preservation Hall’s message to “modern” marchers like Rebirth and Dirty Dozen: “Pump the brakes, youngsters! We ain’t dead YET!”

CLIFF HINESWanderlust (Self-released)
Some members of Preservation Hall have ties that are older than this fellow Big Easy resident. That said, multi-instrumentalist Cliff Hines really gets his his Marco Benevento on, with an eclectic assortment of musical styles and cinematic takes on everything from Tehran’s Green Revolution and the Fukushima meltdown to the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. Bewitching vocalist Sasha Masakowski is the not-so-secret weapon in this intricate tapestry, as Hines plays Second Line one moment, Indian raga the next, and quotes William Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” while mashing up jazz and thrash. Wanderlust is truly addictive. More, please!

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LIVE: Turtle Island Quartet & Tierney Sutton @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 12/6/13

December 12th, 2013, 2:00 pm by Greg

Review by Greg Haymes

It was billed as “A Solstice Concert: The Festival of Lights,” and while it wasn’t strictly a holiday concert, it was definitely a celebration of the music of the season – and beyond – sometimes joyous, sometimes solemn, but always jazzy.

Led by violinist David Balakrishnan, the Turtle Island Quartet has never been a typical string quartet – their repertoire includes selections by Charlie Parker and Robert Johnson – and the sublime Tierney Sutton is a rather fearless jazz vocalist, so it was no surprise that their approach to holiday music at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall would be served up with a twist.

Yes, there were some Christmas gems, including a decidedly swinging rendition of “O Tannenbaum,” a somewhat tentative, straight-forward version of Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here” and a marvelously inventive mash-up of “Silent Night” with Miles Davis’ “All Blues.”

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Jazz-2K: CD Picks of the Week

January 10th, 2012, 2:32 pm by Greg

Reviews by J Hunter

In the spirit of the New Hampshire primary, Jazz-2K shows solidarity with the business community by starting the year their way – with a closeout sale of cool stuff from 2011!

The Tierney Sutton Band: American Road

“American Road”
(BFM Jazz)
This one made a lot of Top 10 lists, and it’s easy to see why: Tierney Sutton doesn’t do “shouty”; she’s all about finding nuance within the nuance of her material. As such, she doesn’t need any foil sharper than the bottomless expression of Christian Jacob’s piano as she takes us on an evocative tour of the Great American Songbook. Sutton’s haunting take on Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” hints at the reality Tony and Maria chose not to face, while “My Man’s Gone Now” puts Bess’ rage on the same level as her loss. The driving background of “On Broadway” minimizes the poverty of the guitar-playing protagonist in favor the excitement and possibilities of New York City, while the schizophrenic arrangement of “It Ain’t Necessarily So” shows how fast life can change gears on you – both up and down. Another triumph from one of the genre’s best interpreters – and the band that makes her music a cut above.

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LIVE: The Tierney Sutton Band @ The Egg, 1/21/11

January 25th, 2011, 4:30 pm by Greg

Tierney Sutton

Jazz singer Tierney Sutton uses her voice like certain painters use color. Ever inspired by the emotional possibilities of musical tints and hues, she never lets the narrative of a song impede her imagination or daring.

At The Egg last Friday, Sutton cut a bright path through the American songbook with longtime band mates Christian Jacob on piano, Kevin Axt on bass and Ray Brinker on drums. “We’ve been together for more than 17 years,” she announced at the beginning of the show, like a woman proud of a long marriage. The musicians collaborate closely with the singer on all arrangements, and play with such intimacy they do almost seem to be finishing each others’ phrasing.

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LIVE: Tierney Sutton Band @ A Place for Jazz, 10/9/09

October 15th, 2009, 3:45 pm by Greg

Tierney Sutton

Tierney Sutton

Smart, imaginative and simply sublime, jazz vocalist superb Tierney Sutton and her trio rolled into Schenectady last Friday for a stunning performance at the First Unitarian Society’s Whisperdome, as the latest performer in A Place For Jazz’s concert series.

Waiting for her to take the stage was the largest crowd in the 20-plus-year history of A Place for Jazz, including a number of Nippertown’s own top jazz singers: Jeanne O’Connor, Nancy Donnelly and Jody Shayne among them.

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