Tierney Sutton at Yoshi's

I was reluctant. It was a Monday night, after a long hard day at work. To go and listen to somebody whom I've not heard of was a chore. Then the publisher said, "You have to write about this one." That, really became a chore. But I went. Oh, am I glad that I went! What a surprise! What an experience!

She started with an a capella introduction, vocalizing without words, twisting and turning on a melodic line when it finally led to the theme of "Morning Sunrise." How clever! Her tone was accurate, her runs precise and imaginative. What a breath of fresh air. Tierney was then joined by Christian Jacobs on piano, Trey Henry on bass and Ray Brinker on drums.

"Never Let Me Go" followed. Her interpretation was so different, that it seemed like she had reinvented the melodic lines. However, the theme is there, peeping at the listener now and then to keep you interested.

Her duet with drums alone on "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" was unforgettable. Her voice, used like, maybe a saxophone, flows lightly and freely. I am sure if someone transcribe what she was doing, it could easily be played on a flute or a tenor. When she accompanied this magnificent drums solo, she did just that ­ a note here and there, just like somebody would intersperse the solo with chords. It was really fun to watch the interaction between them.

She mentioned that Ray Brown once advised her to take some well-known tunes and make them Jazz, rather than drawing from the Jazz standards alone. So she did. She sang "Wouldn't It Be Lovely," "Show Me," and "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face" from My Fair Lady. Another piece that Tierney did later this evening that was unusual was "The Wicked Witch is Dead" which she did in lightening speed. She was fast and accurate in all her interval jumps. She was matched by the piano and the bass. What I liked the best about her improvisation on this piece was how she slid in the phrase "Somewhere over the Rainbow" just once while she scatted. It was clever, and satisfying.

After a solo piece by Christian Jacob, Tierney came back to the stage to do "Route 66." The drummer did a wonderful bare hand accompaniment on the drums. The next piece I couldn't name, but Trey Henry did a wonderful bass solo, even though he showed no expression on his face, or his body. Talking about the bass, this his is a special one. Trey sat on a tall stool, and his bass sat on a small one. This bass, which sounds like a regular bass, is small. It is like the size of a bigger, fatter, guitar, and Tierney liked to poke jokes at it.

It was a comfortable, cohesive trio. They knew what they were doing, and they were together. They were in tune with each other and were locked in their interaction. They added to the fun and excitement of the performance.

Finally, Tierney did a ballad, "Something Cool." It was sweet and delicious. The story was told beautifully. The most straight-forward piece I heard all evening. Then a Bill Evan's tune rounded off the evening.

Tierney was one of the most innovative Jazz vocalist I've heard lately. It was exhilarating to hear her sing. she doesn't have the deep, thick sound like Denise Perrier or Brenda Boykin, but she makes use of her skill as an instrumentalist, scatting like what Coltrane would do with his sax. Her arrangements were all very unique, and absolutely delightful. We had a great time.

by Stella Cheung Houston

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