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"Suzanne Cloud has a husky and expressive voice that is powerful yet subtle. On this set, she performs songs that mean a lot to her, three of which she wrote or co-wrote herself. The music is atmospheric, moody, sometimes brooding, but always swinging in its own way. Most importantly, Cloud's interpretations are heartfelt and never lose one's interest. A highlight is one of the most rewarding versions of 'Never Never Land' that has been recorded. This underrated and understated set is well worth checking out."
- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide"
'Never Never Land' and 'Autumn Leaves' are sung with more heartfelt poignancy than usual and 'Imagine My Frustration,' originally an R'n'B tune, is recast as an impressionistic song about loneliness...'Do I Hear a Waltz?' is a charming showcase for Cloud's stark vocals and Jim Miller's active drums while 'Two Lost Souls' is a cool late night duet for Cloud and her mother with fine baritone sax from Denis DiBlasio. This is more personal than the normal Jazz vocal album but it's stirring in its own way and it makes compelling music."
"Suzanne Cloud's last release, 1996's 'With a Little Help From My Friends,' delight(ed) the listener through irony and a liberal political view upon current events. Her current release, 'Looking Back,' draws the listener into her heart. Cloud has abandoned for now the mordant wit and has concentrated on personalized expression.
Supported by an outstanding group of Philadelphia-based musicians, 'Looking Back' offers varying approaches to Cloud's theme of reminiscence...slowly revealing truths through the musical unwinding of emotional fragility and questioning.
Starting out her career as a soprano, Cloud's alto voice now seems to have deepened with perhaps an extension of range...Suzanne Cloud is front and center as the conceptual and musical leader on 'Looking Back.'"
- All About Jazz
"'Autumn Leaves'...reaches an emotional level with pianist Jim Ridl that gives fresh force to a well-trodden song....aching...fabulous...heart-stopping...sassy...
She owns the songs she sings, and that makes her a storyteller and a conjurer of her own life. This recording is full of artful shadings by saxophonist and flutist Denis DiBlasio and trombonist Dale DeVoe, as well as sympathetic comping from Ridl and fellow pianist Eddie Green....She also dares to do a duet with drummer Jim Miller on Richard Rogers and Stephen Sondheim's 'Do I Hear a Waltz?'...Cloud bares herself in the tradition of jazz chanteuses of yore."
- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Suzanne Cloud brings some lovely torchlight jazz vocals to her CD release, 'Looking Back,' and it is an entertaining collection of enjoyable music.
Suzanne Cloud is accompanied by many talented musicians, and each one is flawless in performance. Pianists include the always enjoyable stylings of two well-known jazz pianists: Jim Ridl and Eddie Green. Dale Devoe appears in performance on trombone.
What sets this collection of vocals apart is its color and sensitivity of emotion. Billy Strayhorn's 'Imagine My Frustration' is beautifully done by Cloud as is the extraordinary 'Joshua.'
If you have never heard Suzanne Cloud sing, this is a fine introduction to her great talent! 'Looking Back' is a winner, a fine showcase for jazz vocalist Suzanne Cloud."
"The musical support and arrangements are what you expect from the best. Selections range from such charming but rarely heard gems as 'Just My Imagination' to the often-rendered but freshly interpreted 'Autumn Leaves'...it also includes several very interesting original numbers by the participants, such as the title song by Cloud and 'Maybe, Just Maybe' by Eddie Green and Morris Bailey."
"With A Little Help From My Friends is an amalgamation of Philly's finest jazz players performing jazz classics and originals, with a healthy dose of funk, dissonance, biting satire, and moral outrage...almost all of the lyrics are Cloud's own compositions. Cloud's voice ranges from melodic oration and soulful wails to sultry moans and mockingly saccharine excess, effects aided by her powerful projection, smooth glissandi, and effortless ornamentation. The musicians throughout are top notch...In addition to the careful instrumentations, Cloud incorporates samples from sources as diverse as ABC, NBC, and C-Span on 'Below the Beltway' to 'It Came from Outer Space' and 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' on 'Watch the Skies.'
Despite the variety of performers and sound effects, With a Little Help From My Friends flows easily from track to track. The many highlights include the horn arrangements in the funky 'Talk Radio,' Gerald Veasley's bass playing on 'Watch the Skies,' and Jef Lee Johnson's always virtuosic, at times pianistic, and often Hendrix-esque guitar work on the Lennon-McCartney title track and Cloud's original, 'A Lullaby, Dear Monk.' And finally, Cloud's adept work in more straight-ahead jazz idioms on tunes like Cedar Walton's 'Bolivia,' while her own satirical lounge tune, 'Collagen Lips,' deserves mention. This is a unique album characterized by exceptional musicianship, a fondness for and mastery of contemporary and traditional jazz idioms, and honest expressions of serious concerns through humorous, yet sometimes painfully true, lyrics."
- All About Jazz
"This set is most intriguing not so much for the fine singing of Suzanne Cloud or her excellent backup musicians but for her lyrics... The words deal with the nonstop and often nonsensical chatter heard on 'Talk Radio,' crooked politicians, Kenny G, plastic surgery, a tribute to Thelonious Monk, and hopes for tomorrow. This is folksinging and social commentary of the highest order, but in a jazz context. And although it was recorded in 1995, the issues are still quite relevant. Recommended."
- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
"Vocalist Cloud wrote lyrics to eight of the tracks, including several that are quite humorous - and we could all use some laughs these days...Among her lyrics one is happy to hear what she's done with Cedar Walton's classic 'Bolivia.' Cloud contributes potent political commentary, including a collage of sampled voices, most from the repressive side of the aisle, on the pithy 'Below the Beltway.' Elsewhere she properly skewers Kenny G ('Hey Kenny, Gee'), pens a love letter to Monk, and offers a sarcastic send-up of the cosmetic enhancement craze ('Collagen Lips')."
- Open Sky Jazz / the Independent Ear
"...inventiveness of intent and execution, vocal assuredness and insight...A one-of-a-kind album...may become a collector's item. There's nothing else quite like it." - Jazz News
"(A) Great CD...an eclectic mix of contemporary jazz and socially conscious lyrics." - The Nation
"...a vocalist I can listen to more than once, and she's a clever lyricist, too...I'm titillated by Suzanne Cloud's sardonic slant on silicon sillies who have 'Collagen Lips...' Suzanne Cloud's voice is the most amazing instrument of all." - JazzTimes
"Suzanne Cloud...prefers to focus our attention on her brain rather than her voice. On her original 'Below the Beltway,' she wittily juxtaposes the repetitious, singsong rhythms of political talkspeak with a jazz vocal and a funky backbeat. I'm anxious to hear what she'll do for an encore." - Village Voice
"How many times have Jazz and social commentary really intersected over the years? There's Shepp, Mingus, Max Roach's 'Freedom Now' Suite, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra. It hasn't been done too often and certainly not recently. That alone could recommend this CD." - Cadence
"...she's one of jazz's best-kept secrets, a full-voiced, rhythmically assured singer..." - Washington City Paper
"Suzanne Cloud doesn't beat around the bush. Her songs aim squarely at political and cultural conservatism. Her lyrics have a clever, inventive and humorous edge ...Cloud and drummer sidekick Jim Miller line up their targets and let fly barbs of satire and outrage." - Green Left (Australia)
I'm expanding my writings on Medium, and currently a contributing writer for the Broad Street Review. I'm also the project director for the Philadelphia Jazz Legacy Project, an archival group preserving the memories and material culture of the Philly jazz scene.
I am very, very proud that I received the 2019 Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalists Association, given to me by WRTI Jazz Host J. Michael Harrison at Temple University.
Don't consign yourself to the same old stuff at your next party or venue - you want something special that folks will remember. Okay, we DO the standards, but we're not standard lounge lizards - we DO so much more. You can check out videos below of Tom, Andy and I at Chris' Jazz Cafe and a gorgeous rendition of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams with Jim Ridl, Mike Boone, Jim Miller and Larry McKenna below.
If you want to buy my CDs, check with me. With a Little Help From My Friends and Looking Back are on Amazon, but you can't get them anymore through them. To get my LP I Like it! with Eddie Green, Tyrone Brown and Jim Miller, email me.
Most of the photos on this site are by photographer Anthony Dean
Enjoy youtubemusic videos with jazz pianist Jim Ridl, bassist Mike Boone, drummer Jim Miller and saxophonist Larry McKenna accompany Suzanne Cloud in Philadelphia. Quite a singer in Philadelphia!
Guitarist Tom Glenn and bassist Andy Lalasis - just leaning into the tune with me.
Below the Beltway By Jef Lee Johnson and Suzanne Cloud
I Got My Smile On (Ode to Sycophants) by Tom Glenn and Suzanne Cloud
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