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Tierney Sutton to headline the 2010 Isthmus Jazz Festival
Tierney Sutton
Tierney Sutton

The Tierney Sutton Band will headline the 2010 Isthmus Jazz Festival on Saturday, June 5 at the Wisconsin Union Theater, featuring Sutton's unique approach to jazz singing. The festival also features free performances by regional jazz bands the weekend of June 4 and 5 at the UW Memorial Union Terrace.

Raised in Milwaukee and now based in Los Angeles, Sutton has risen to the top of the heap among contemporary jazz vocalists. She's recorded eight albums and earned three Grammy nominations on the strength of her supple voice, her rhythmic subtlety and her interpretive skills. Sutton finds new wrinkles in standards like "Route 66," "The Best Is Yet to Come" and "Fly Me to the Moon," even as she tips a hat to forebears like Ella Fitzgerald.

What really distinguishes Sutton from other singers, however, is her philosophical ardor. She's an adherent of the Baha'i faith, which believes in the unity of the human race. Her spirituality isn't heavy-handed, but instead becomes evident in the meditative intensity of her performances. The songs on her latest album, Desire, are cleverly chosen as a critique of our culture's materialism. As she sings in "It's Only a Paper Moon": "It's a Barnum & Bailey world//Just as phony as it can be…."

Sutton also has a distinctive relationship with her band. They aren't just any old quartet, but a legally incorporated unit who've worked with the singer since the '90s. They share equally in the finances and the creative decisions, and that translates into exceptional rapport onstage.

Sutton performs at the Wisconsin Union Theater on Saturday, June 5, at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $23 in advance and $25 day of show; $10 for UW students. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (608-265-ARTS), by fax (608-265-5084), by mail or in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater box office at 800 Langdon St.

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