Tierney Sutton’s Joni Mitchell Project@Catalina’s 04.27.14

Vocalist Tierney Sutton has recorded tributes ranging from Sinatra to American folk music, but her latest venture into the music and worldview of Joni Mitchell seems like the perfect fit, as she showed to the appreciative crowd at Catalina’s Jazz Club.

Teaming  up with guitarist Serge Merlaud and cellist Mark Summer (of the Turtle Island Quartet), Sutton was able to dig deep into the dark blue moods of Mitchell’s compositions, melding “A Free Man in Paris” with “April in Paris” with the Spartan support of Merlaud’s guitar before Summer bowed in with “A Free Man in Paris.” The pizzicato sounds from the pair of strings surrounded Sutton’s Waterford Crystal voice on “All I Want” to create exotic rhythms and environs. Drummer Ralph Humphrey joined the stage for a take of “Beautiful Love” that had the musicians create percussive drippings like a rain forrest, followed by Sutton and the drummer going it as a feisty duo on “Big Yellow Taxi.” A gentle perception of bossa nova was delectable on “Court and Spark” and a cozy “I Remember You”  before longtime partner Christian Jacob (who has a great new solo disc out) came on stage to bop along to “Bye Bye Blackbird.”

It says a lot about both composer and performer that songs and moods ranging from giving a child up for adoption (on the vulnerable “Little Green”) to psycho-analysis (on the frenetic and bluesy “Twisted”) to the philosophical (on the reflective “Both Sides Now”) can be both popular and musically attractive. Ms. Sutton has perfectly matched the body and soul this time around, and with her singularly attractive voice, makes 60s folk music relevant to the 21st Century.


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