Born: July 30, 1962 Primary Instrument: Vocal
My family has always been very musical. I've always been surrounded by live music, education and art. The family traveled to small towns with my musician father playing at dances in the sixties. He played boogie woogie piano, bluegrass and country music on the guitar. I went to jams with him at the neighbors house and I always looked forward to every moment when he picked up the guitar or sat at the piano. My Mom was in the local theatre group and sang in musicals. I remember that my favorite was The Cole Porter musical, Anything Goes. I had all the words to all the tunes memorized. When my parents divorced, Mom moved the kids to Kansas City. I started listening to a lot of Rock, Soul, and R&B. I began, seriously, listening to jazz when I was 16. A highschool friend of mine, now a DJ in L.A. at KPFK , turned me on to Joni Mitchell, Charlie Parker and Billy Holiday. After listening to this music, I fell in love with it and have continued with this love more seriously by singing the standards in clubs all over Kansas City.
You’re only as good as your band in this business, and Sweeney has picked the best. On her CD, Danny Embrey sits in the producer and guitarist chairs. Paul Smith tackles keys and Tim Cambron hits the skins. Rounding out the backing band is Craig Akin on bass. This solid group of musicians provides a great backdrop for Sweeney’s smooth alto vocal stylings. With influences ranging from Sarah Vaughn to Gladys Knight, her balladry takes on a bit of sauciness, but more class, just the way she likes it.
Story by Rachel Murphy.
Reviewer: Vince Staskel The debut self-titled album by this Kansas City jazz gem is a great find indeed. D.J. Sweeney recalls the days of caberet jazz and steamy nightclubs. The standards could not be better presented. This CD is a treat for anyone who misses a time when a vocalist told a story of longing and of love. D.J. Sweeney is a great find and a class act, indeed.
D.J. Sweeney is a fine singer who has a straightforward delivery, swings lightly, and mostly sticks to the words and melody of the songs that she interprets. She was in Los Angeles for a time but has since relocated to Kansas City. For her self-titled debut, she is joined by a top-notch quartet that includes guitarist Danny Embrey and pianist Paul Smith. Sweeney adds joy and life to a variety of older standards including “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart And Throw Away The Key,” “You Turned The Tables On Me” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” Other than “My Love Is,” all of the songs are at least several decades old but she makes them sound relevant, fairly modern and fun. The music is never complex or complicated, so a long analysis is unnecessary. Simply put, D.J. Sweeney sings some of her favorite songs in a likable and accessible fashion while joined by some of Kansas City’s top musicians. The only fault to this set (which is available from cdbaby.com) is its brief length (around 36 minutes) but it is easy to enjoy and a strong debut effort. Scott Yanow
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