Digital Release – Available from Bandcamp

Michael Sutton – Vocals; Rob Barron – Piano; Jeremy Brown – Double Bass; Mark Taylor – Drums; Quentin Collins – Trumpet (Tracks 1,6 & 9)
Recorded at Quiet Money Studios on the 24th-28th October 2022

Having reviewed several excellent albums by female vocalists of late, it is a pleasure to hear this recording by a male vocalist who on the evidence of this debut is destined for big things.

Sutton has a soulful voice and an engaging personality that is heard and felt throughout. Consisting of compositions from the Great American Songbook and a couple of tasty hard bop pieces from Horace Silver and Freddie Hubbard the set is far from predictable, and that is down to Sutton superb vocals and the intelligent arrangements by pianist Rob Barron.

The album gets off to a cracking start with Horace Silver’s ‘Señor Blues’ and while this started life as instrumental and perhaps more familiar to many as such, Silver himself wrote the lyrics in 1958 for a recording in 1958 with Bill Hardman taking on vocal duties. From the outset Sutton makes his presence felt, and it is apparent that this is not av hastily put together album, and that the singer really understands his craft. Mention must also go to trumpeter Quentin Collins whose contribution here and on two other tracks brings some additional fire, and the way voice and trumpet interact on Silver’s composition is highly effective.

Sutton swings mightily on ‘This Could Be The Start of Something Big’ and delivers a powerful vocal delivery to boot and brings a quiet authority to another swinging performance on ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing’. This assurance is also to be admired in a fine arrangement of ‘Red Clay’ by Freddie Hubbard that makes effective use of Quentin Collins on trumpet as a foil for the vocalist, with both musicians making room for each other and sparking off a genuine rapport. And talking of a rapport, Michael Sutton’s longstanding friendship with Rob Baron is allowed to present itself in a captivating duet on ‘Never let Me Go’.

What is refreshing about this debut album is how the Sutton views the music and way in which he can best present it. Enlisting one of the UKs finest rhythm sections was not a bad place to start, and he was also in the fortunate position to have the album produced by Claire Martin, who also lends her voice to a striking duet on ‘The Way That Young Lovers Do’.

If you are wondering why you have not heard of Michael Sutton before now, it is because after beginning a career as a professional musician at the age of 16 and realising in his mid-twenties that it was not the most secure of way of earning a living he decided to go back to University and study cardiology. After completing his degree, Sutton has devoted himself to a career in the NHS, but never given up on his dreams. And taking his cue from the lyrics of ‘Here’s That Rainy Day’ found himself once again picking up those leftover dreams. On the evidence of this album, he was quite right to do so.