There’s an obvious connection between the Tierney Sutton Band and Hollywood–Clint Eastwood used the quintet in the soundtrack for the 2016 film Sully. ScreenPlay seems to be the beginning of a comprehensive project where singer/arranger Tierney Sutton tackles many of the most memorable songs from the world of cinema. This particular CD, with cover art predominantly in red, appears to be the first in a series–I’ve seen images of the same artwork with different coloring and different subtitles: Technicolor, Montage and The Golden Age are all future “acts” in this series. This one, the first, might be subtitled The Bergman Suite–I’ve seen artwork that includes this but I may just have an early promo copy.
The “Bergman” in the title refers to Alan and Marilyn Bergman, who the Tierney Sutton Band refers to as the most influential lyricists of all time. ScreenPlay contains five songs from the Bergmans–“”The Windmills of Your Mind,” “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” “It Might Be You,” the previously unreleased “Ev’ry Now and Then” and “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” that includes a duet between Sutton and the now 93-year-old Alan Bergman. The mood here is somber and reflective–Tierney Sutton’s voice is sweet and expressive, and she’s leaning more toward a ballad approach.
This slow and romantic approach is novel considering the Tierney Sutton Band is also taking on such classics as “I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio and Sutton brings a whole new sultry dimension that you never knew existed. The rest of her band–pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Kevin Axt and Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker–aren’t exactly wallflowers here. They know how to dig up the jazz beats amid the lushness and can even get a little funky with upbeat songs like “If I Only Had a Brain.” That keeps ScreenPlay surprising and engaging through the entire album.
What’s remarkable here is that the Tierney Sutton Band reinvents every one of these songs, some to the point where it takes a couple of verses before you figure out what’s going on. (You’ll never guess that “The Sound of Silence” is coming after the first few seconds of the exuberant intro.) The band even tackles a couple of songs from Grease–“Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want”–without me wanting to head for the exits. (Man, I hate Grease. Sorry.) There’s one simple reason that I enjoy every song here, no matter the original material–the Tierney Sutton Band is incredibly charming and talented, and they can make any song theirs. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.