The modern era of music streaming allows veteran jazz artists to create and release recordings in a way unique from any other time. One of the genre’s most essential, critically acclaimed and globally renowned interpreters and performers for the past two decades, 8-time Grammy nominee Tierney Sutton and her longtime ensemble - pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker - define a fresh way forward for jazz concept albums with ScreenPlay, which pays homage to the glorious first century of film music.
In the months leading up to the release what will be a wide ranging 19 track CD, the group is rolling out 3-5 track thematic suites for digital only release. There’s no better place for Sutton and company to start than a five track EP dedicated to works featuring the enduring and heartfelt lyrics of the film world’s own poet laureates, lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
Backed by gently caressing arrangements, the singer’s gracefully subtle, often gossamer vocal cadences bring fresh light and insight to the Bergmans’ stories, even in tunes we’ve heard countless times before, like Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of Your Mind,” and “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?” and Dave Grusin’s “It Might Be You.” Every time you listen, your heart may feel a flutter in a whole new unexpected place.
Also of note: the clickety clack percussion on “Windmills,” a haunting effect illuminating the turning wheels of time so eloquently expressed in the lyrics; and the choice to intertwine Alan Bergman’s sweet, whispery vocals with Sutton’s on “How Do You Keep The Music Playing” (music also by Legrand).
It would have been a no-brainer for Sutton to populate the EP only with familiar material, so special kudos to her for including a song so rare you can’t even Google it – the heartbreaking vocal/piano ballad “Every Now and Then,” featuring a Bergmans lyric set to an instrumental piece that Grusin wrote for the 1996 film “Mulholland Falls.” Let’s consider the Bergman’s chapter of ScreenPlay like an exquisite short film, whetting our whistle for more magic to come.