The Press Talks
—John Hoglund, Cabaret Scenes
Back Stage Bistro Award winner (Jazz Vocalist) Andrew Suvalsky has released an ambitious second album, A World That Swings on LML Music. As his jazz and vocal sensibilities mature, he deserves serious praise on several counts: his sharply improvised way with a lyric, an intelligent sense of swing and the inherent musicality of his interpretations. It all makes for an impressive entry by one fairly new to the jazz arena. He also deserves praise for something else: an attribute not rare among jazz crooners who have arrived on the scene in the last decade: building an eclectic repertoire on chestnuts from the Great American Songbook era. He covers standards, contemporary pop and blues.
What sets him apart? The difference is that he makes his interpretations his own with a nod to the greats. While generally avoiding sounding like others, he recalls Curtis Stigers on a high gear reading of “One Note Samba” and a young Michael Murphy on “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.” The album peaks on a contemporary flavored “Fool On the Hill” (McCartney) and a bluesy, well phrased, “How Deep is the Ocean?” (Berlin) accompanied only by Peter Bernstein’s magical guitar that is expressive and timeless. Cole Porter’s “Night And Day” becomes a classic swing-bop replete with a sassy scat.
Supported by keyboard phenom Bennett Paster, the band informs each cut with a driving intensity laced with sophisticated fun that scales the heights with ease.
—Kevin Scott Hall, EDGE International
Two years after his acclaimed debut recording and sold-out appearances at New York’s top clubs, including the Blue Note, jazz crooner Andrew Suvalsky is back with his sophomore set, A World That Swings (LML Music).
"Vintage Pop and the Jazz Sides," his 2006 effort, went in a few directions, a common issue with debut recordings where the artist is still defining himself and trying out a few different things. That can be a fun exercise for the eclectic listener, but a bit of a nightmare for the radio programmer. Suvalsky had classic jazz choices like "The Best is Yet to Come" but also things as far afield as the 70s rocker "Love is Alive" (admittedly a minor hit for him).
For this new disc, Suvalsky has wisely chosen to focus on what he does best: swing standards. His one foray into pop, Carole King’s "I Feel the Earth Move" is a jazz rendition all the way.
While he may not have the rounded, vocal richness of Tony Bennett, the emotional depth of Kurt Elling, or the range of Al Jarreau, what he does have in spades is an energetic playfulness. He attacks each song with the excited wonder of a child opening a gift on Christmas morning.
This approach is most evident on the first track, a romping rendition of Hammerstein and Romberg’s "Lover Come Back to Me," which should get some airplay on jazz radio. Another Hammerstein/Romberg number, the rare gem "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" is also given an athletic workout.
He displays some sexy scatting on Jobim’s "One Night Samba," the nonsense syllables like personal sweet nothings for the listener’s ear. More common fare like "All of Me," "How Deep is the Ocean" and "Night and Day" are given fresh readings, particularly the latter, which will have the listener bopping around the room.
Suvalsky surprises with his formidable interpretive prowess on the spare arrangement of the Lennon/McCartney ballad, "Fool on the Hill," which features a nice duet of sorts with Steve Wilson’s plaintive-sounding flute. Suvalsky has surrounded himself with an impressive roster of musical talent; it’s to his credit that he is able to keep his vocals at the forefront of such a fine group. Bennett Paster’s piano and organ work and Peter Bernstein’s guitar playing are memorable standouts.
And still under forty years old, his finest years as a jazz singer are still ahead. That’s good news for jazz fans who are looking for an up-and-coming star to latch onto. With this follow-up disc, Andrew Suvalsky is proving that he means to stay around for a while: the best is yet to come.
—Kevin Scott Hall, Talkin' Broadway
This is a follow-up to Andrew's debut album that ambitiously divided up tracks and had the new recording artist multi-task and present himself as jazz guy, pop player and blues man. For now, at least, in his sophomore effort, he's picked a team: he's a swingy jazzer and does it pretty well. He continues to be an enthusiastic and respectful, and very likeable, vocalist who wins points for being game and unpretentious and digging into the music he digs. His joy is contagious. Yes, there are times he seems the diligent student rather than the master of all he surveys. He is following in some pretty big footsteps, taking on songs memorably done by many jazz greats. His band is polished and strong, and while there are moments where one feels he is just along for the ride and following along, there are other moments when we feel him take the reins and steer.
Hip without being smugly so, he comes off as gregarious or endearingly modest—and generally radiating cheer. Even in "When the Sun Comes Out," when he laments how "my man walked off and left me in the rain," the line that feels strongest is "though he’s gone, I doubt/ That he'll stay away for good." When others sing this, it feels more buried in the gloom and doom. Here, it's just a temporary blip until he's reunited with his lover. Likewise, in "Lover, Come Back to Me," the implication is that the invitation will be accepted and cue the happily-ever-after party. Mostly sweetly upbeat, there's a happy spin to his World That Swings.
As for lasting loneliness or failure, it's just on one number and it's happening to the other guy: he's "The Fool on the Hill" and the singer's treatment of the Beatles' song about the loser is a real winner here. It's one of the highlights and shows how he can imbue a number with some emotion without laying it on too thick or being intimidated by a classic. There's respect, but not the kind of awe that would make him just go for a slavish copy cover.