Sue Pasquale and the Windy City Be-Bop Trio - Mostly Bop

(Pasquale Music)
Sue Pasquale

Review by Brad Walseth

Mostly Bop is a loving recreation of the great songs of the be-bop era (mostly) by Sue Pasquale and the (somewhat misnamed) Windy City Be-Bop Trio, and it is a delightful release by these Chicago suburban jazz musicians. Hip in the suburbs! sounds crazy doesn't it? but these folks prove that the spirirt of jazz can survive anything - even strip malls and endless subdivisions.

Working with a mix of beloved standards like How High the Moon/Ornithology," "Body and Soul" and "Honeysuckle Rose," as well as some surprises - Monk's "Straight, No Chaser," Gerry Mulligan's "Line for Lyons," Pasquale and her group succeed by paying attention to and actually playing the songs themselves - a novel approach in this day and age. With such great songs, there is no need to clutter or destroy these timeless melodies with egotistic and often sub-par improvisations. This is not to say the singer and her musicians aren't splendid soloists - they are - but they understand that taste is an important element in conveying the swinging feel of the standards.

Sue Pasquale's vocals shine wonderfully throughout this recording. She has a way of getting inside and caressing a melody and can bring chills without resorting to the pyrotechnics modern singers often resort to. Her scatting is often fiery, always delicious, and her understated phrasing is a joy on ballads like the bluesy "I Keep Goin' Back to Joe's" and her husband Bill's lovely original "You Said You Couldn't Dance." In turn, the band plays well together in instrumental sections or while adding admirably sensitive backing for the singer. Bill's guitar work is just what the doctor ordered in terms of how to play a song/support a singer, and shows clearly the years of experience he gained supporting major acts like Johnny Mathis and Johnny Hartman. Dave Poe's baritone sax lends a lyrical world-weariness to the proceedings that suits this piano-less group extremely well, while Mark Neuenschwander's rhythmic bass is creamy good. The overall production is enhanced by the clear, clean sound achieved by engineer Dave Levitt at Accutrack Studios that features the singer while allowing each instrument their own voice.

All in all "Mostly Bop" is a tasty, attentive presentation of great music that proves there is life (and jazz) in the surburbs - well done!

Check out Sue and Bill at their website

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