Jazz Singing: an espresso with Tierney Sutton

October 1, 2019

Jazz singing...

An espresso with Tierney Sutton, one of the most esteemed singers of American Jazz

> Luca Vantusso


What made you desire to be a jazz singer?
I sang from childhood but didn’t discover jazz until college. I was studying Russian language and literature and didn’t plan to be a professional singer, but once I heard jazz (Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Bobby Mc Ferrin, Myles’Davis John Coltrane) I fell in love with it. I finished my Russian degree and went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and studied with Jerry Bergonzi.

In your opinion, what is jazz today?
To me, the essence of jazz is creativity and improvisation….but that doesn’t necessarily mean scat singing. It could simply be taking a song and finding new meaning, a new story. Jazz also means taking something that is dark and challenging and creating something transcendent. That’s what the African Americans were able to do to the highest degree imaginable. As the most oppressed people in this country, they created the most admired and original music.

How do you choose, arrange and write songs? And how do you choose the musicians you play with?
My band has been together for over 25 years and we do most of our arranging and song selections in collaboration. We’ve done 12 albums together. I also have collaborated with other musicians, Hubert Laws, Larry Koonse, Peter Erskine, Serge Merlaud…and have not written a lot. I wrote some lyrics for The Clint Eastwood film “Sully” after Clint asked the band to write a score.

Jazz Singing: an espresso with Tierney Sutton copyright Jazzespresso 2019.

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