There have been many great female jazz vocalists over the years; Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Anita O’Day readily spring to mind. On Nov. 10 in the Cottage at Irish Times in Brookfield, I discovered another one, one who has been quietly wooing audiences in the Midwest for many years now, but who has never received the national acclaim that she deserves. Her name is Sue Pasquale.

Members and guests of the Brookfield Jazz Society were treated to a display of stylish jazz that would have graced any auditorium in the land. Sue differs from most other vocalists, in that her main forte is the bebop idiom, although she can sing any style of jazz with complete ease. Accompanying Sue were her “Friends,” consisting of husband Bill on guitar, Dave Poe on baritone saxophone and Steve Hart on bass.

The music started with just the trio playing Milt Jackson’s classic bebop anthem “Bags’ Groove,” which paved the way for Sue to join in on Duke Ellington’s lovely “I’m Beginning to See the Light.”

Next came a rare vocal version of Sonny Rollins’ “Doxy,” with a particularly nice bowed-bass solo by Hart. Big Band arranger Neal Hefti’s composing skills were put to good use, as Sue and the gang played his quirky “Girl Talk,” the title track of their latest CD.

The beat changed to a bossa nova one with “One Note Samba,” featuring great guitar work by Bill and more cool sax from Poe, before returning to bebop, with a superb band performance of Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite.” The first set ended with another unusual vocal choice in Miles Davis’ “Four.”

It is always a good sign when an audience doesn’t thin out a little for a second set, and at this gig, absolutely nobody left their seats, a tribute to the excellent playing of the whole band, which commenced with a rousing version of “How High the Moon” and followed by a wonderful interpretation of Frank Foster’s “Shiny Stockings.”

Around 60 years ago, trombonist Juan Tizol wrote a very upbeat tune for Duke Ellington’s band called “Perdido,” the way that Sue sang it, you could almost think that this one had been written especially for her. After great renditions of “Stockholm Sweetnin'” and George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” both with excellent guitar and baritone sax work, the evening drew to a close. The Brookfield Jazz Society members will never forget the night that Sue Pasquale and Friends provided the evening’s entertainment.

?”Ian Tiele

 Ian Tiele is the president of the
Brookfield Jazz Society