Big Band Tag Team

Chris Walden and Tierney Sutton Hit SOhO

by Stanley Naftaly

Chris Walden is a truly brilliant big-band composer/arranger.
His first American release, Home of My Heart, was
nominated for two Grammys and his new release, No Bounds,
is a fascinating example of intelligent, forward-thinking, and
powerful writing and playing. Last year, Tierney Sutton was voted
jazz vocalist of the year by Jazz Week, nominated for the
jazz vocalist Grammy, and currently is nominated for the Jazz
Journalist Association’s female jazz vocalist award. The two of
them brought down the house at SOhO last summer and are poised to
do it again on Monday evening, June 12.

Walden could read music before he could read writing, and
classical piano lessons started at age 7. He took up the trumpet at
13 and discovered jazz at 14, when he heard Charlie Parker and
Dizzy Gillespie’s Live at Birdland. As he puts it, “From
that moment on, I was hooked on bebop.” He started writing for big
bands at 16 and has never looked back. Today, he has an enormous
discography in Germany and here.

Sutton talked about the difference between singing with her
group — a trio — and fronting a big band. “With my band, I’ve been
an integral part of the creative process. With a big band, you try
to honor the arranger’s ideas. And you have to really know the
charts well, because the ideas contained in them inform what you’re
going to do.” She went on to describe how, with her trio, if,
during a performance, she changes something, they can “go with
her.” With a big band it’s not going to vary from the tracks, so
it’s precision above all else, while still leaving room for a bit
of improvisation.

This is a chance to see one of the best modern big bands in the
country with one of the very best jazz vocalists in the world.
Don’t miss it.

4•1•1 The Chris Walden Big Band featuring
Tierney Sutton plays SOhO on Monday, June 12, at 8 p.m. Call


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