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Critical Acclaim for A NEW TAKE

Critical Acclaim for A NEW TAKE
“I've been watching Susan Matsuki's career develop for years and welcomed the chance to review her new CD. When I received it, I played it straight through, then played it again, then AGAIN. This is a CD that's liable to stay in my CD changer right next to Nancy LaMott. The album is a compilation of steamy sultry jazz takes on standards and pop tunes, remarkably arranged by Gregory Toroian.
Matsuki is always a pleasure on-stage, but she truly comes alive in the studio. Unlike many cabaret performers who don't translate well to the recorded medium, Matsuki brings emotional intensity and vocal insouciance to her debut album. She is joined by the stellar musical performances of Gregory Toroian on piano; Ned Mann, bass; Ron Tierno, percussion; Chris Hajian, trumpet; Gene Bertoncini, guitar; and Bob Kindred, sax. This album has all the seductive silky jazz stylings that the Linda Rondstadt/Nelson Riddle albums should have had. Toroian is truly a find, both as an arranger and pianist, and the album is all the more impressive because of its debut status.
Some of my favorite cuts include Rodgers & Hammerstein's perky I Whistle a Happy Tune juxtaposed with Mancini & Mercer's evocative, mysterious Whistling in the Dark, and an extremely fresh take (hence the album title) on Van Morrison's Moondance. Mel Tormé's I'm Gonna Miss You is a lesser-known gem, cycling through a year of lonely holidays (far superior to Stevie Wonder's similar I Just Called To Say I Love You which tries to say the same thing without as much sophistication). Jobim & Lees' Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars evolves into a driving, pulsing version of Basia Trzetrzelewska & Danny White's Astrud with amazing band solos by both Toroian and Kindred. Matsuki's take on Carly Simon's Anticipation still makes me forget the ketchup commercial, as I mentioned in a previous review. I think perhaps my favorite cut is an arrangement of Del Shannon & Max Cook's Runaway with Janis Ian's Love is Blind, with great Memphis-style piano from Toroian and ethereal vocals from Matsuki.
On the whole, A New Take is a recording that cabaret artists with dozens of albums under their belt would be proud of. As a debut, the album is remarkable.”

John Patrick Schutz, Reviewer at Large
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