Most of this can be categorized as a swing revival project, but having the focus on singer Jan Sutherland means that there is a touch of other material that must have been considered such an important representation of her talents that inclusion was required. How else to explain "The Rose" popping up here like a sore thumb among various snapping fingers? It would only be relevant if the versatility of the vocalist was the focus, as this song is kind of a showpiece for female singers. Sutherland's somewhat more contemporary sound -- more like Janis Joplin than Bessie Smith when she growls -- means that in some ways she is more convincing with "The Rose" than Satchmo's "West End Blues," which, all told, would not be a good thing on an album that consists mostly of vintage song compositions. Sutherland is surprising, though, charming her way through "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen" with an accent that might land one an extra serving at a German inn. Her recitation on "Burgundy St. Blues," on the other hand, sometimes sounds like a high school English teacher, which in turn is kind of hard to rectify with her tone of voice when she sings, "If you'se a viper." The band is a big, big asset. Bertram Turetzky keeps a solid swing going in a manner that might mystify some of the composers who have written avant-garde music for him over the years. This is part of the bassist and teacher's activities playing with San Diego jazzmen, some of whom are really superb, such as trombonist Clarke Gault and Jerry MacKenzie, who plays great solos on both clarinet and sax as well as providing some banjo plunking here and there. Ensemble passages are pulled off with real skill and polish.
AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne