Born: June 28, 1963 Primary Instrument: Vocal
In a world of overnight sensations, jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton’s success has come from the road less traveled.
A decision in the mid ’90s to move to Southern California from her New England home resulted in a decade-long collaboration with her current band mates. A Wisconsin- born choir girl, unexposed to jazz until college, Tierney eventually found the best of the best--collaborators with their own impressive jazz pedigrees, from Natalie Cole to Diana Krall, from Ray Charles to Randy Brecker--pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt, and drummer Ray Brinker.
Ten years and six critically acclaimed CDs later, Tierney and her band demonstrate what collective consultation and dedicated teamwork can achieve. Reviewers repeatedly say that audiences experience a rare and powerful harmony, achieved by humble performers at the top of their game. The road less traveled in an impatient world.
A versatile studio singer as well as premiere entertainer, Tierney’s voice was recently featured on Lions Gate’s hit film The Cooler, starring William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin. She can also be heard in Paramount’s Twisted, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia and Ashley Judd. And in 2004, Tierney and her band scored the independent feature film Blue in Green, which was released by the Unica Project. Tierney’s unique voice is also regularly featured in commercials representing such organizations as BMW, Coca Cola, Dodge and J.C. Penney.
Educated at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Tierney became a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition in 1998. Her first solo CD, Introducing Tierney Sutton (1999), was released to rave reviews and nominated for a 1999 Indie Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Later that year, Tierney signed with the Telarc Jazz label. On Unsung Heroes, released in March 2000, she took popular jazz standards that are usually performed instrumentally (Joe Henderson’s “Recordame,” Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring,” Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” and others) and recorded them with vocals. Soon she became one of the critics’ most talked about jazz musicians.
Tierney’s second Telarc project, Blue in Green, released in June 2001, was an album of music written by or associated with pianist Bill Evans. Featuring fourteen incredible performances from Tierney and her working trio, Blue in Green even included a guest appearance by former Evans drummer Joe La Barbera.
Something Cool, released in September 2002, quickly rose to #1 on the jazz charts and continues to garner extensive airplay across the U.S. and Europe. This adventurous recording includes a swinging rendition of “Route 66,” Lerner and Loewe’s “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face” and “Show Me,” Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” and a fresh arrangement of “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” one of Tierney’s concert favorites.
In March 2004, with the release of Dancing in the Dark, which debuted in the Billboard Jazz top ten and remained on the charts for over 15 weeks, Sutton completed one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful runs in the history of New York’s legendary Oak Room. The packed houses at the Oak Room and the rave reviews she received eventually led to her February 2005 Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops.
In March 2005, Tierney and her band performed in front of a select audience of friends and fans at Birdland in New York City. Produced by Elaine Martone, I’m with the Band is Tierney’s first live recording and her fifth Telarc release.
The set list on I’m with the Band is a Tierney Sutton fan’s dream-come-true, featuring never before recorded material from throughout her career. And live, Tierney simply cannot be beat, because as great as she is in the studio, it’s on stage where she really lights up.
In June 2005, Tierney won JazzWeek’s Vocalist of the Year Award. An active educator, she has served in the Jazz Studies Department at the University of Southern California, as well as giving workshops and clinics throughout the world.