Montreal Jazz Chanteuse Susie Arioli Goes "All the Way" on New Jazzheads Release.
Set to perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York City on June 19, 2012
Since first joining forces in 1998 with guitarist and kindred spirit Jordan Officer in her Swing Band, Montreal-based singer Susie Arioli has been casting her seductive spell on jazz fans throughout Canada, and in Europe. Her sultry voice, clear articulation and fondness for the Great American Songbook places her squarely in the camp of such classy jazz divas from the 1950s as Peggy Lee, Chris Connor, June Christy, Julie London and Lee Wiley, with allusions to jazz vocal icons Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday in her powerfully emotive delivery.
On All the Way, Arioli's new CD release on Jazzheads through an exclusive arrangement with the Montreal-based Spectra/Musique, the Juno-nominated artist again puts her own distinctive stamp on standards by the likes of Rodgers & Hart, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn, Jules Styne, Harold Arlen, and George and Ira Gershwin. This delicious offering should establish her in the United States and the jazz community at large as a talent deserving of wider recognition. Guitarist-arranger Officer is once again onboard, as he has been for all seven of Arioli's outings. The band is rounded out by pianist Jeff Johnston, bassists Bill Gossage and Frederic Garnier, drummers Tony Albino and Michel Berthiaume, saxophonist Cameron Wallis, trumpeter Jerome Dupuis-Cloutier and vibraphonist Francois Grenier.
Arioli's upcoming appearance on June 19 at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, in Manhattan's prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center facility, will kick off her stateside release of All the Way. It's all part of the process of increasing Susie Arioli's presence beyond Canada. According to Jazzheads president Randy Klein, "I heard Susie's 2008 recording Night Lightsand immediately felt the purity of her vocal approach to these songs and knew that a larger audiences should experience the beauty of her music."
Susie's tender and alluring take on Rodgers & Hart's My Funny Valentine" sets a beguiling tone as the opener to All the Way and she maintains the spell with a haunting rendition of the standard Time on My Hands," a tune interpreted by such regal songstresses as Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Lee Wiley and Marlene Deitrich and covered instrumentally by such jazz icons as Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins and Art Tatum. Officer provides some tasty chordal accompaniment and inspired guitar solo, a la Oscar Moore from the Nat Cole Trio, while Wallis offers a smoky, Getz-ian tenor solo in the middle of this wistful number. Switching gears, Arioli and her crew (augmented by a three-piece horn section orchestrated by Wallis). Officer's frisky guitar playing on this jaunty '50s number falls more into the Mickey Baker-Les Paul school. They render the dramatic Jimmy Van Heusen-Sammy Cahn ballad All the Way" (a tune forever associated with Frank Sinatra since he introduced it in the 1957 film The Joker is Wild) as a '50s doo-wop stroll with Susie channeling her inner Connie Francis. And they interpret Van Heusen's poignant Here's That Rainy Day" as a soothing bossa nova. Another Van Heusen gem, It's Always You" (introduced as a gorgeous ballad by Bing Crosby in the 1941 movie Road to Zanzibar) is handled as a straight ahead mid-tempo swinger with Officer contributing more tasty chord melodies and old school licks.
Elsewhere on All the Way, Arioli casts her spell on the 1937 Harry Revel-Mack Gordon tune There's A Lull in My Life" (a number covered by Chet Baker, Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald) and on a sparse trio rendition of the classic Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer number Come Rain or Come Shine" (memorably covered by Sinatra, Sarah, Dinah Washington, Chris Connor and many others}. They put a fresh, Brian Setzer-ish spin on the jazz standard When Your Lover Has Gone" and Arioli delivers alluring French lyrics on the Dinah Washington signature, What a Difference a Day Makes." Their clever take on George and Ira Gershwin's Looking for a Boy," a tune recorded by everyone from Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, June Christy, Chris Connor and Rosemary Clooney, is immersed in a retro '50s vibe. Officer cleverly juxtaposes a touch of Thelonious Monk's Misterioso" before launching into another aggressive Mickey Baker-Les Paul-inspired solo. They conclude the collection with the Jules Styne-Sammy Cahn tune Time After Time" (famously covered by Sinatra, Chet Baker, Nancy Wilson and Anita O'Day), putting an exclamation point on Susie Arioli's stellar recording.
Beginning as a duo, with Susie on vocals and snare drum while Jordan played guitar and handled musical arrangements, Arioli and Officer got their big break at the 1998 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal when they were invited to open for Ray Charles in prestigious Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts concert hall. It was a rousing success. Festivalgoers and critics alike were instantly charmed by the duo's retro take on the Great American Songbook. In 2000, they released their first album, It's Wonderful, to wide acclaim throughout Canada. The following year they made their first stateside splash at New York's Birdland nightclub and had a similar affect on audiences there, at Royal Festival Hall in London and at the Festival Django Reinhardt in Paris. Their second album, 2002's Pennies from Heaven, was enhanced by the back of the late, great pianist Ralph Sutton and a special guest appearance by Canadian guitar phenom Jeff Healey. 2004's That's for Me, released under the name Susie Arioli Band, was presided over by renowned producer John Snyder, well-known for his work with Chet Baker, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden and Etta James. They took a serious detour on 2005's Learn to Smile Again, which paid tribute to country songwriter Roger Miller and followed up in 2007 with a live CD/DVD of their performance at the 2005 Montreal Jazz Festival. In 2009, she won the Oscar Peterson award.
In October 2008, Susie Arioli released a first album under her own name entitled Night Lights. Still accompanied by the outstanding guitarist Jordan Officer, who also produced the album, it featured her unique takes on standard jazz classics like Blue Skies," Can't We Be Friends" and Beyond the Sea." The album was well received in Canada and in Europe where the renowned French radio TSF JAZZ named Night Lights as Best Jazz Vocal Album of 2009." She followed that success with her first holiday album, Christmas Dreaming, which went gold in Canada. To date, her recordings have sold 260,000 albums worldwide. And now comes 2012's All the Way, another gem in her ever-swinging catalog.