Tierney Sutton, Paris Sessions 2 Review
by Stamish Malcuss
Tierney Sutton is back with her follow-up to her 2014 Grammy-nominated Paris Sessions, Paris Sessions 2. While recording the original project, the nine-time Grammy Award-nominated vocalist forged indelible chemistry with classically trained Parisian guitarist-arranger Serge Merlaud. Now, husband and wife take their musical connection to even deeper levels on Paris Sessions 2. “We got married at the end of 2019, had a ceremony in Paris in October and another in L. A. at the end of December,” Sutton explained. “This turned out to be lucky timing because once COVID shut everything down, only people legally married to citizens of France or the United States could travel freely. Which we did, back and forth on empty planes.” The project was recorded during lockdown at L. A.’s Tritone Studios, with Sutton and Merlaud being joined by double bassist Kevin Axt, a member of the Tierney Sutton Band since 2005, and legendary flutist Hubert Laws, who recorded remotely from his home studio.
“Triste” starts with Sutton singing an ostinato that Merlaud and Axt soon join. Sutton sings the original lyrics with beautiful diction and control. Her singing tone is pitch accurate and rhythmically in the pocket. Merlaud’s nylon-guitar solo is superbly melodic and filled with attractive harmonic colors. The interlude features Axt and Sutton performing a slick tutti before Sutton takes a fine scatting solo. A delightfully intimate arrangement of a classic Latin jazz standard.
“You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” again opens with Sutton singing an a Capella figure built upon by the rest of the ensemble. The arrangement features Laws’ warm flute and exciting counterpoint between various members of the ensemble. Axt eventually sets a relaxed swing feel as Sutton sings the melody with creative embellishments. Laws’ solo is fluid and fits with the relaxed guitar and bass supporting sounds and textures. Merlaud switches to an acoustic steel-strung guitar for this selection, which adds a sonic variance. Again, his solo is fluid and fits the mood of the song.
Paris Sessions 2 puts Sutton’s voice front and center with an intimate collection of thoughtfully arranged and performed songs. Sutton has always focused on creating interesting arrangements of the jazz repertoire, and in addition, her scatting is instrument-like and adds to the ensemble’s sound and energy.