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Bluenote Review

After a few years of bouncing around in cabaret/jazz clubs with his band, jazz/swing stylist Andrew Suvalsky made an impressive debut at The Blue Note recently with two sold out shows making him worthy of formidable attention. He arrived on the scene from Milwaukee via a few stints in Chicago jazz spots and has been slowly gaining attention from local jazz cats with his terrific CD, “Vintage Pop and the Jazz Slides” (LML) that has been very well received. With this latest notch on his belt, Suvalsky has established himself as an exciting entry on the jazz scene and someone to keep an eye on. At times in his sets, Suvalsky's singing reveals elements of swing, bebop, and free-style jazz with a few forays into scatting and shifting rhythms making for some beautiful lyrical passages with his red hot band of excellent musicians.

Vocally, he's a hybrid of crooners past and present. In spots, his delivery recalled Bobby Darin at his peak. In that regard, he might take his singing a step further to gain even more of an edge in a crowded market. In doing so, he will stand out more from the sometimes blandness of that Sinatra clone, over-rated Michael Buble` and the sloppy, throw-away phrasing of Harry Connick, Jr., (neither of whom he sounds like.) It's Suvalsky's individuality that sets him apart. And, individuality is what makes a star. Daring to be different is one of his best assets and one that should carry him far.

Occasionally he lets a more vulnerable side shine through. In doing this, his vocal conversations with the audience create special moments. This happened near the end of his set as he took a request from a zealous fan and sang the Rodgers and Hart evergreen, “My Funny Valentine.” Here, in spite of taking the song just a tad over the top with a hint of anger thrown in and an over-amplified band, it was like he made love to the music and, ultimately, it became another moment to savor.

Above all, he is always accessible as an interpreter of some weathered classics like “The Best Is Yet to Come” (Leigh/Coleman) and a bouncy “ Ain't Nobody's Business” by Billie Holiday and Freddy King that included a smoky scat. A cool “Windmills of Your Mind” by Michel Legrand with words by the Bergman's that started slow, showed intelligent phrasing and enunciation (something not all jazzers pay attention to.) This was most effective when the tempo doubled on the second chorus giving this tongue-twister some added drama. He turned Stephen Sills' “Love the One Your With” into a hand clapper. With a bossa beat, he propelled the Antonio Carlos Jobim gem, “The Girl From Ipanema” into a kinetic romp that became something sexy and something cool. That analogy describes a lot of what Andrew Suvalsky is all about. He emotes a laid back, confident sexiness that endears him to his rabid fans.

He took a risk singing the pseudo rock/pop ditty called “I Believe in Love” (Streisand/Russell) from the 1976 Streisand re-make of “A Star is Born.” Yet, in spite of the repetitive, meaningless lyrics, Suvalsky made the song his own and in his best free-fall vocal style scored with ease. This is a singer with a smooth, rangy voice, a winning presence and one whose sure to make more waves as he takes even more chances in his repertoire. For now, and based on his last outings, the sky's the limit for this nice guy with the winning smirk who hasn't even tapped his full potential. The ingredients are all there.