All Music Guide

Vocalist Sue Matthews first appeared in 1991, releasing the traditional jazz album Love Dances that year. Her smoky croon caught on with audiences and two years later, her When You’re Around scored her another hit. She spent most of the ’90s touring behind these two albums and appeared at every sort of jazz showcase or festival she could make it to. In 2002, One At A Time brought her back to the world of jazz recording. Bradley Torreano, All Music Guide

All About Jazz

For her third effort as a soloist, Mid-Atlantic singer Sue Matthews has opted to go with an agenda of standards, show tunes and traditional pop, all of which of she sings with an innate appreciation of intimacy and savoir-faire, mixing some blues inflection and torch where it makes sense.

She also has a way about her that gives one a warm, cuddly feeling after listening to her do something like “Down with Love” where she gets a big assist from veteran bass player Keter Betts and long time Washington, D. C. guitarist, Steve Abshire. The same two show up for a rueful, blueful version of “Rocks in My Bed.” At the same time, Matthews can wrench at your heartstrings with a lovely Stephen Sondheim “Losing My Mind” from Follies. Another heart twister, “Here’s to Life” is countered by a folk like “Caledonia” done A Capella showing her Irish roots which is also offset by a down and dirty, Sophie Tucker like “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues.”

Matthews does all of these wonderful vocal things with on the mark articulation, phrasing that’s attuned to the meaning and direction of the lyrics. She has the ability to use her band members to her best advantage. For instance, she hones in on the melodically rich and lyrically tender “My Romance” with strong and equal participation from pianist Stefan Scaggiari as well as trading phrases with guitarist Gerry Kunkel. Because of her willingness to share the song, musicians must like to work with her putting her in a class of vocalists that a Helen Merrill belongs to. This album is highly recommended. To learn more about Matthews, visit her web site at ~ Dave Nathan

Featured Artist: Sue Matthews

Jazz Review

Sue Matthews is a jazz vocalist with class, and a great sweet style that will attract a large listening audience. Matthews’ articulation and phrasing is as perfect and clear as they come, and she sings with a refreshing honestly that makes the lyrics come alive with emotion.

One At A Time is a fine showcase for the many vocal talents of Sue Matthews. There are 12 songs in the collection.

Such songs as “My romance,” “On My Way To You,” the wonderful “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues,” “One At A Time,” among others make this a nice collection to have in the home library and a nice gift for a friend. Stefan Scaggiari is a first rate pianist, joined with a group of musicians that give engaging performances and heartfelt solo work. The rendition of “Amazing Grace” is excellent.

If you want to hear a fine jazz vocalist in a showcase setting for her talent, please listen to Sue Matthews sing on One at a Time then purchase a second CD for a loved one. Sue Matthews gives a memorable performance on “Here’s To Life” that will linger in the listeners’ minds long after the song is finished. Topnotch collection.

South Wales Evening Post

The excellent American vocalist, Sue Matthews, whose latest recording, One At A Time (Renata Music 7014), is very impressive.

Her laid back effortless delivery and smoky voice, reminiscent of the late Julie London, is something to be savoured and enjoyed.

Two raunchy blues tracks, “Rocks In My Bed” and “Wild Women Don’t Get The Blues,” are contrasted with an up-tempo version of “Down With Love” and a beautiful cabaret rendition of “On My Way to You”.

The highlight of the album is an unaccompanied version of the song “Caledonia,” which really exposes Matthews’ marvelous lyrical phrasing and vocal qualities to the fullest effect.

She is a jazz vocalist deserving more attention on both sides of the Atlantic. David Griffiths

Additional Reviews

Sue Matthews is a bona fide jazz singer. Her phrasing is a dream. Her articulation is razor-sharp. And she’s blessed with a wonderfully supple instrument. All these attributes, and more, are neatly showcased in Love Dances (Sir Records), an outing elevated even higher by the tender, loving (yet energized) support of pianist Stefan Scaggiari, bassist Keter Betts, drummer Mike Smith, and guitarist Steve Abshire. And as Matthews pours her soul into standards such as “I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues” and “How Long Has This Been Going On?,” it’s indelibly clear why she’s one of the Nation’s Capital’s top jazz divas. Also impressive is Matthews’ ability to bounce with breezy abandon as in her romp through the Cole Porter classic, “Easy To Love,” a title whose reflexive resonance in this case turns back to Matthews herself – a singer whose impressive gifts and persona are, indeed, “easy to love!” Chuck Berg, JazzTimes

Matthews’ delivery is intimate, flawless, and smooth. We prefer the tracks that gravitate toward interpretation and a suave cabaret feel. Cole Porter’s “Easy To Love,” the title cut, and “Make Me Rainbows” are elegantly spare. Matthews’ vocals smolder with dynamics and technical precision – even under the most minimal musical accompaniment. Just check out her stark treatment of “My Funny Valentine.” She literally puts her singing talents on the line. Kent Zimmerman, The Gavin Report

It’s a pleasure to listen to a jazz singer who avoids exaggerated vocalizations. Sue Matthews dispatched those standards with a breezy, straightforward competency. On “I Want To Be Happy” she scats effectively and she shines on the swinging “Someone To Light Up My Life.” She can be sultry, too. Pianist Stefan Scaggiari, co-producer and arranger, adds luster with his understated style. Marcela Breton, JazzTimes

This is the third solo album by this very good singer. She has a clear, rounded vocal sound that she uses in a fluid and moving manner on an a capella version of the folk-ish Caledonia, while finding an appropriately rugged sound on the rousing “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues.” She slips into a slow but irresistible groove on a seriously swinging “Rocks In My Bed,” and is eloquently appealing on the ballads, such as “My Romance” and “On My Way To You.” The accompaniment is instrumentally varied and always of the highest quality, gently supportive of the singer and dotting the proceedings are some nicely taken solo spots by Scaggiari and both guitarists.
Overall, though, I think that it is the well chosen repertoire, allied as it is to the singer’s unerring ability to find exactly the right approach to each song, and then to deliver it meaningfully, that marks her out as someone with a real chance to make a big impression on the overcrowded and highly competitive world of the female jazz singer. Not only is her next offering to be awaited eagerly, but I for one will also be seeking out the previous pair of CDs, Love Dances and When You’re Around. The liner provides only personnel and titles; no background on the singer. Very good sound. Very warmly recommended. Bruce Crowthier, November Jazz Journal International