Brimming with energy and passion, Susie Arioli is back with a new album, Spring, where lively, bounding rhythms set the beat for a renewed approach. An album where the singer gives free rein to both her singing and her writing skills, inspired by the frequencies of an ensemble that groups together illustrious representatives of the jazz elite. Displaying an irresistible sensitivity and drive, Susie applies a special verve to the formidable musical canvas served up by a band under the direction of renowned multi-instrumentalist and arranger Don Thompson. Faithful to her roots, she brings her personal signature to bear on a number of jazz standards – and then happily surprises us with four songs of her own making in a deftly managed premiere as a singer-songwriter.
In absolutely hopping orchestrations that invite us to join the party, blues and soul influences are very much in evidence on an album that blends multiple accents. The Arioli sound takes on a whole new dimension under the impetus of celebrated producer John Snyder – Grammy Award winner for his work with the late Etta James – and a nine-musician collective boasting a powerful wind section. Around leader Don Thompson, the top-level lineup – consisting of the rhythm section of Terry Clarke, Neil Swainson and Reg Schwager and their cohorts on winds, Phil Dwyer, Andy Ballantyne, Shirantha Beddage, Kevin Turcotte and Kelsley Grant – deliver a delicious energy to an album on which pleasure is an obvious driving force.
The Susie Arioli original “Loverboy” wastes no time in setting the tone for the album and showcasing the singer’s songwriting talent, as she expertly evokes the spirit of the great jazz classics. Also an Arioli work, the title song, “Spring,” is no less captivating, with lyrics set to a gently accented melody. On “Can’t Say No,” the singer’s pen gets up to delightful mischief in dealing with fiendishly booze-drenched subject matter. A detour through the bossa nova and a certain delicate situation, on “Someone Else,” rounds off the homegrown segment of the album.
The covers are just as inspired on a recording consistent in vitality from start to finish. Swaying to arrangements of refined elegance, “Evening” takes us to the end of the night, while Bo Diddley’s “Dearest Darling” adopts a resolutely funky feel. Standards like “Mean to Me,” “Me, Myself, and I” and “Trav’lin’ Light” testify to the evolution of a unique singer ever growing in her artistry. And “I’m the Caring Kind” brings back the Susie Arioli of cheerful rhythms after a visit to the bluesy surroundings of “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights.” Everything concludes in a wonderful gallop through a performance of “After You’ve Gone,” the musicians having a field day with some irresistible swing.
Flying a banner of renewal, Spring is an album of feel-good sounds on which Susie Arioli reaches new heights of inspiration, backed superbly by Don Thompson and a group of instrumentalists gifted with keen instincts.
With Spring, Susie Arioli opens the doors to a new cycle, the bearer of magnificent possibilities.