GRAMMY-Nominated Tierney Sutton Band Seeks the Path to the True Self in New Telarc Recording
For better or worse, we live in a society that is fascinated by wealth and fame – indeed, even obsessed with it. Our film stars, sports figures, financiers and pop icons are elevated and even worshiped as something more than human. Nearly all of us are fascinated with these larger-than-life figures. For some of us, the secret desire is to actually become one of them.
Tierney Sutton, a leading figure in vocal jazz for nearly a decade, maintains that the obsession with fame and material things – a phenomenon that has been accelerated and amplified in this media-centric new century – is wasted energy. Worse yet, it comes with a dark aspect that can infect the soul. Such is the premise of Desire, her new album set for release on Telarc.
While the songs in this eleven-track set are mostly jazz standards, they are framed by opening and closing tracks that are embellished with lyrics lifted from sacred religious and spiritual texts that speak to the evils of greed and the inordinate desire for fame and worldly goods. “To me, this record is about stepping back and recognizing the difference between the voices we hear that are not our own and the ones that are truly within us,” Sutton explains, “and discovering that the material things that we want or desire are not usually a path to happiness, and are not usually a path to ourselves.”
This philosophical and spiritual approach to cutting a jazz record is not as new for the Tierney Sutton Band as it may seem. Sutton and her fellow musicians – pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker – have been interpreting various standards from this perspective for the fifteen years that they’ve been together. “We’ve just never been as clear about it as we are on this record,” she explains. “Even on our very first records, I was singing standards, and what was in my head was definitely about these principles and ideals. I just had never put it out there in a literal way like I’m doing with this record.”
As a performing artist whose career is often subject to the whims of the commercial market, Sutton is no stranger to some of the very same temptations she sings about on Desire. “I’ve had to battle these demons,” she admits. “I know them well. They are very present in my life. At the same time, I feel unbelievably happy and satisfied with the career that I’ve built, the music I’ve been able to make, the band that I’ve been able to keep together and all the rest of it. I have one of the most profoundly satisfying artistic lives of just about anyone I know.”
While a record like Desire is made with a certain amount of risk, it was also Sutton’s chance to put the dynamics of this personal struggle – one that is shared by so many others in so many walks of life – on the table for all to see, and perhaps even learn from. “What choice do I have if I’m not really going to be sincere?” she says. “It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but once I made it, I just said, ‘Well, yeah. This is really logical. It makes sense. It’s absolutely what I should do.’”