Hailing from Montreal, Susie Arioli has championed jazz swing with a host of musicians and bands for nigh on twenty years. Pennies From Heavenwas released in 2002 and is her second album, it’s a smile inducing foot tapping affair. A perfect antidote to the endless stream of politics, news and other negative tales of wow and intrigue brought on by “events dear boy, events”.
The album highlights the presence of lead guitarist Jordan Officer on its cover, his Django Reinhardt-esque French swing guitar is intoxicating and equal in its verve to the very prodigious swing singing style of Arioli’s voice. Joining them on the album are bass players Solon McDade and Colin Bray, and guitar player Jerome Brown. Arioli doubles as lead vocal and drum player. In addition, there is a cameo by the late Jeff Healy on the band’s version of Memphis Slim’s ‘Having Fun’.
The sound veers from western blues swing to French gypsy guitar. The tunes include jazz standards from Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and others as well as original tracks. Most of the foot tapping tracks will be familiar to most listeners. The album is a relaxed smile inducing affair but while being accessible maintains a strictly schmaltz free musical environment. The arrangements and tracks are executed brilliantly and ‘swingingly’ by the whole band.
The recording is very analogue, warm and fast with generous but tight bass which makes for a great sound even when played in the car. (I have this on MP3, but even heavy compression doesn’t ruin the listening pleasure.) Pennies From Heavenis a very highly recommended retreat from the woes of modern existence and a perfect companion at home or on the road.