Berklee Today: A Novel Approach

Mark Small
March 4, 2009
Tierney Sutton '87
Photo by Tatijana Shoan

Tierney Sutton '87 has carved out her own niche among the many jazz singers who interpret classics from the Great American Songbook. Part of what distinguishes her readings of chestnuts like "Paper Moon," "Cry Me a River," and "Skylark" is the musical overhaul she and fellow members of the Tierney Sutton Band perform on every number in their repertoire. Together with pianist Christian Jacob, drummer Ray Brinker, and bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt, Sutton deconstructs each tune, stripping away everything but the melody and lyrics, but even those may be subject to slight alterations. Then they rebuild each song from the ground up, devising customized bass lines and drum grooves, metric modulations, and dramatic reharmonizations to fit their concept of the tune and the larger theme of the album. The result is an alluring and contemporary take on the songs that never loses sight of the jazz tradition.

Read more about Tierney Sutton '87 in Berklee Today.