A Review of Susie's Show at the Metropolitan Room
Ron Forman of WKRB-FM, March 2102
I am very grateful to the inventors of the DVR, because while the entire world was watching
the season premiere of “Mad Men” last night, I was enjoying a marvelous jazz performance at
the Metropolitan Room at 34 West 22nd Street. The featured vocalist, Susie Meissner, was
accompanied by six of the top musicians in the jazz world, Joe Magnarelli on trumpet,
Greg Riley on sax, Tim Horner on drums, Lee Smith on bass and musical director John Shaddy
on piano. Ms. Meissner has a voice that I would describe as the SWEET SOUND of jazz singing.
She sounds great when she is swinging but her voice works especially well when she is doing a
ballad as displayed last night with her work on Hoagy Carmichael's “Skylark.”
The show last night opened with a swinging version of Jerome Kern's “All the Things You Are”
that set the tone for the rest of the evening. Miss Meissner's song selection contained many
of the best songs in the great American Songbook. Highlights included Cole Porter's “You'd Be So
Nice to Come Home To,” with excellent solos by Joe Magnarelli and Greg Riley. Ms. Meissner did a
wonderfully beautiful version of Jobim's “Meditation.” Her up-tempo performance of “How Deep is
the Ocean,” was a unique and successful take on the classic Irving Berlin ballad. Her closing number
“Day by Day” was in an interesting tempo aided and abetted by some amazing drum mastery by
Tim Horner. Ms. Meissner is definitely in the top tier of today's female jazz singers.
Bob Gish Reviews I'm Confessin'
From the CD Reviews section of
Jazz Inside NY, April 2011
Might as well confess! Susie Meissner can really sing – and the sidemen who accompany her can really play!
The listener is under no duress to confess this of course. It all comes as naturally and as liltingly as
Ms. Meisner's voice. The play list helps too.
You just can't go wrong with the oldies heard here. There's not a lemon in the lot, each one of them
part of the great American songbook. Each tune is dusted off and delivered with fresh aplomb, allowing
not only the vocals but the solos to take you back, assuming you're of a certain age, to seemingly
simpler times and tunes. And in the tradition of jazz and popular music hard times are mitigated
by the enjoyments of music, herein all with a jazz inflection.
Wycliffe Gordon's solo on the title track echoes Meissner's intimacy and phrasing. (He's great too
on “Slow Boat to China.”) Dean Johnson's solo and pristine accompaniment on “I Love You,” melts
mellifluously into Greg Riley's soprano sax solo, making for a pleasurable triadic collaboration,
especially as Meisner slides into a crescendo at the bridge.
Endings are always crucial and highlights of all the tunes are the concluding measures and the
changes chosen, be it a button, a major ninth, or an unresolved dominant. On “Just Squeeze Me”
Freddie Hendrix and Riley hold forth with muted trumpet and tenor sax cross-voiced to blend
seamlessly into John Shaddy's swingin' piano solo.
All of the tunes are rendered successfully and each listener will have more than one favorite.
It's maybe possible to mess up “I'm Just a Lucky So and So,” “Tangerine,” “The Nearness of You,”
or “Skylark.” Here they are vocal and instrumental triumphs. Johnson brings “So and So,” into its own,
complementing Meissner's bluesy delivery of the lyrical joy expressed in the lyrics. Paul Meyers makes
“Tangerine” live again as a Latin standard, always requiring a guitar and a guitarist of note, never in
the way of the concluding bars of solo sax.
Arrangements and texture can make or break a song. Shaddy's piano introduction to “The Nearness
of You,” and his extended accompaniment of the vocal illustrate again how essential the keyboard
is to a vocalist. Talk about nearness — it's here not just in the lyrics but in the dynamics of just
voice and rhythm section. “Skylark” brings Paul Meyers to the forefront again with the soft, acoustic
chording and a haunting, sensitive solo so fitting to this beautiful tribute to music, song, and love.
So, confessions are easy here. This is beautiful music all around, done up by those who love the
wonder of it.
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