Sunny Sumter: Sunny!

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Jazz Times says, "Sunny's voice is lovely, lush, liquid. Her timbre is reminiscent of Lena Horne; her phrasing recalls Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. Hers is a brandy-rich sound with a velvet-smooth style, perfect for ballads such as 'Daydream' and 'Save Your Love For Me'."
Part Number: 05932
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JazzTimes says Sunny’s voice is lovely, lush, liquid. Her timbre is reminiscent of Lena Horne; her phrasing recalls Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. Hers is a brandy-rich sound with a velvet-smooth style, perfect for ballads such as “Daydream” and “Save Your Love for Me.” Over the past 3 years, I’ve watched Sunny mature into one of the East Coast’s most soulful ballad singers. So much so that I jumped at the chance to record this CD, her second. Larry Willis’ soulful piano chops bought out Sunny’s most gorgeous interpretations of Sarah, Billie and Stevie Wonder songs. Larry leads other jazz heavies including Keter Betts, Jimmy Cobb and McCoy Tyner’s altoist, Joe Ford, plus the Rick Schmidt String Quintet.


1. The Best Is Yet To Come (C. Coleman/ C. Leigh) -Listen to Full Song

2. Detour Ahead (B. Holiday/ A. Herzog)

3. I Fall In Love Too Easily (S. Cahn/ J. Styne) -Listen to Sample

4. Jim (C. Petrillo/ S. Milton/ N. Shawn)

5. Nick Of Time (S. Sumter)

6. Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen (Traditional)

7. Overjoyed (S. Wonder) -Listen to Sample

8. Daydream (W. Strayhorn/ E.K. Ellington/ J. LaTouche)

9. Save Your Love For Me (B. Johnson)

10. Lonely Woman (H. Silver)


REVIEW by Positive Feeback

Silky sweet, smoky and sexy, Sunny Sumter gives us a modest, but highly enjoyable disc. Supported by Larry Willis (who also gets production credits), and other Mapleshade familiars, this is laid-back acoustic jazz with much that is familiar (songs like “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” and “I Fall In Love Too Easily”). Sunny’s voice is expressive and poignant. This is one of those perfect “port and walnuts by the fire” discs. Most pleasing. -Ric Garnder


REVIEW by Houston Press: Black and White Noise

Sunny Sumter is a rare find: a young singer who understands jazz tradition, but also knows the only way to succeed in the art form is to be an individual. A former student of singer/drummer Grady Tate, Sumter has a passionate voice with hints of Sarah Vaughn and Nancy Wilson, but she isn't derivative. Tackling nine jazz standards and the Stevie Wonder song, "Overjoyed," Sumter gets to the heart of the lyrics and rarely relies on vocal gymnastics. This is a strong debut... Sumter's maturation over the next few years should be a pleasure to hear. -Paul J. MacArthur


Review by Houston Press: Black and White Noise

Sumpter, Sunny: Sunny (with Larry Willis, Joe Ford and others). Recorded in 1998, at Mapleshade Studios. Engineer: Pierre Sprey. 59+ minutes. Mapleshade 05932. The emphasis on this release is vocal detail and clarity, and the engineer gets this in quantity. Ms. Sumpter's voice is out in front of the ensemble more than some might like, but in a small-listening-room environment and with standard stereo playback, the perspective is quite workable. The overall soundstage perspective is quite realistic, but at times the forwardness of the vocals appears to put the listener in the front and back rows simultaneously. Interestingly, the fact that an analog recorder (the same 15 ips model that appears to be used in most Mapleshade recordings) was used is evident here, because the background hiss level is greater than what one would ordinarily find with an all-digital recording, and a bit more than what I have encountered in some other Mapleshade releases, too. Dolby Pro Logic decoding works OK, but in order to keep the soundstage from doing a strong collapse toward the center, I found that I had to back off the center level my usual –3dB. The same went for the Classical/Opera mode of my Yamaha processor. In each of these modes, the somewhat forward nature of the vocals were moved back into a more workable size relationship with the rest of the ensemble. Indeed, you can actually position the vocalist by diddling with the center-level control. My processor has two jazz-club modes, neither of which uses the center-channel. The larger room simulation, Village Gate, just did not get along with this release. The somewhat forward and emphasized vocals made Ms. Sumpter sound just too expansive in relation to the rest of the ensemble. However, the Cellar-Club simulation worked quite well. This mode simulates a smaller environment, and the vocal-instrumental balance dovetailed very nice with this surround mode. -Paul J. MacArthur

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