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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

CD Review Jacqui Sutton, Notes From The Frontier, A Musical Journey


Jacqui Sutton (vocals, producer and musical director); Paul Chester (banjo, guitars); Anthony Sapp (basses); Ilya Janos (percussion); Eddie Lewis (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet); Henry Darragh (keyboards, trombone, melodeon); Lyndon Hughes (drums, background vocals); Cindy Scott (background vocals) Aralee Dorough (flute); Bob Chadwick (Irish flute).
(Review by Ann Alex).

How is a new musical genre created?  I guess it evolves gradually from the work of many musicians over a period of time.  Then there comes a day when they realise that they have something different from what has gone before, so it gets a label such as ‘bluegrass’ or, say, ‘western swing’.  I ask because this CD claims to be something new called ‘frontier jazz’, which is said to be a mixture of jazz, bluegrass, classical, musical theatre and folk music.  The mixture didn't work for me, but others may like it.  I heard too many disparate sounds, with vocals which didn't always match the meaning of the song lyrics.  This was a pity because Ms Sutton has a lovely voice, and the musicians are skilled with effective solos on some of the tracks.  It’s not really a jazz CD, but rather nearer to a country music feel.  The songs themselves were well worth singing.
The more acceptable tracks were Dear Friend, a sad song from musical theatre about being stood up, with an ethereal effect from the synthesizer; Weary Angel, a jazzy spiritual with good banjo and trumpet work and all the musicians playing in a final jam; Hummingbird, which incorporates Brubeck's Blue Rondo a la Turk riff into the accompaniment is an interesting experiment that may or may not have come off; Blue Mountain, a straightforward country song;  and the final track, Better Than Anything, a witty song listing everything that is not better than falling in love, which included nifty jazz piano and guitar solos.  Many of the other eight tracks worked instrumentally but the singer sometimes lapsed into singing in a soprano voice which didn't, at least to my ears, sound quite right.
I believe the CD was released in early October in the United States, Catalogue number TBTP002.
Ann Alex.

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