Five MARVELOUS Stars! Multiple Grammy-nominated jazz diva Tierney Sutton uses her clear, sweet soprano and jazz sensibility to deliver, in my opinion, one of the greatest recordings of her career with "After Blue": a tribute to the legendary, high-influential singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, using both original Mitchell compositions and songs of other composers which are associated with Joni. Tierney's liner notes say this Mitchell recording has been a decade in coming to fruition, as she steeped herself in the experience and appreciation of Joni's music and occasionally performed some of her songs in public. Stepping away from the Tierney Sutton Band for this occasion, she joins forces, in various combinations, with the strings of the Turtle Island Quartet, pianist Larry Goldings, flautist Hubert Laws, TSB bandmate acoustical bassist Kevin Axt, guitarist Serge Merlaud, drummer Peter Erskine, and special guest, vocal icon Al Jarreau on "Be Cool", among others.
All tracks are excellent, and the 'best of the best' begins with the sumptuous, swirling "Blue" and "Little Green", both featuring Tierney soaring in both scat and vocal modes, showing off that incredible Sutton vibrato, with great support from the Turtle Island Quartet. "All I Want" is Tierney splendidly singing over a bed of pizzicato strings and drums. The stark duo contrast of Tierney's voice and Larry Goldings' piano works great on "Court and Spark" and "Woodstock", as Tierney hums and vocalizes these marvelous lyrics. The Joni Mitchell, Charles Mingus opus "The Drycleaner from Des Moines" has Tierney effectively trading improvised notes with Hubert Laws' hip flute and Goldings' soulful B3 organ. "Big Yellow Taxi" has, and only needs, outstanding propulsive brush and cymbal support from drummer Ralph Humphrey for an effective, humorous reading by Tierney. The dreamy "Both Sides Now" has the voice and cello of Sutton and Summer in full beautiful intertwined duo contrast. The lush, intimate "Don't Go To Strangers" has Tierney giving a very emotional reading of the Etta Jones classic with Kevin Axt on bass and Merlaud's lyrical guitar. In all, great performances by Tierney Sutton and friends, paying homage to the genius of Joni Mitchell, with excellent individual arrangements from "Turtle" cellist Mark Summer, David Balakrishnan, Julie Bernstein, Axt, Merlaud, and Tierney herself. My Highest Recommendation. Five BLUE Stars! (12 tracks; Time-58:00)