"With A Little Help From
My Friends is an amalgamation of Philly's finest jazz players
performing jazz classics and originals, with a healthy dose of funk,
dissonance, biting satire, and moral outrage...almost all of the lyrics are Cloud's own
Cloud's voice ranges from melodic oration and soulful wails to sultry
moans and mockingly saccharine excess, effects aided by her powerful
projection, smooth glissandi, and effortless ornamentation.
The musicians throughout are top notch...In addition to the careful
instrumentations, Cloud incorporates samples from sources as diverse as
ABC, NBC, and C-Span on 'Below the Beltway' to 'It Came from Outer
Space' and 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' on 'Watch the Skies.'
Despite the variety of performers and sound effects, With a Little Help
From My Friends flows easily from track to track. The many highlights
include the horn arrangements in the funky 'Talk Radio,' Gerald
Veasley's bass playing on 'Watch the Skies,' and Jef Lee Johnson's
always virtuosic, at times pianistic, and often Hendrix-esque guitar
work on the Lennon-McCartney title track and Cloud's original, 'A
Lullaby, Dear Monk.'
And finally, Cloud's adept work in more straight-ahead jazz idioms on
tunes like Cedar Walton's 'Bolivia,'
while her own satirical lounge tune, 'Collagen Lips,' deserves mention.
This is a unique album characterized by exceptional musicianship, a
fondness for and mastery of contemporary and traditional jazz idioms,
and honest expressions of serious concerns through humorous, yet
sometimes painfully true, lyrics."
- All About Jazz
"This set is most
intriguing not so much for the fine singing of Suzanne Cloud or her
excellent backup musicians but for her lyrics...
The words deal with the nonstop and often nonsensical chatter heard on
'Talk Radio,' crooked politicians, Kenny G, plastic surgery, a tribute
to Thelonious Monk, and hopes for tomorrow. This is folksinging and
social commentary of the highest order, but in a jazz context. And
although it was recorded in 1995, the issues are still quite relevant.
- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
"Vocalist Cloud wrote
lyrics to eight of the tracks, including several that are quite
humorous - and we could all use some laughs these days...Among her
lyrics one is happy to hear what she's done with Cedar Walton's classic
'Bolivia.' Cloud contributes potent political commentary, including a
collage of sampled voices, most from the repressive side of the aisle,
on the pithy 'Below the Beltway.' Elsewhere she properly skewers Kenny
G ('Hey Kenny, Gee'), pens a love letter to Monk, and offers a
sarcastic send-up of the cosmetic enhancement craze ('Collagen Lips')."
- Open Sky Jazz / the Independent Ear
intent and execution, vocal
assuredness and insight...A one-of-a-kind album...may become a
item. There's nothing else quite like it." - Jazz News
"(A) Great CD...an
eclectic mix of contemporary jazz and socially conscious
lyrics." - The Nation
"...a vocalist I can
listen to more than once, and she's a clever lyricist,
too...I'm titillated by Suzanne Cloud's sardonic slant on silicon
who have 'Collagen Lips...' Suzanne Cloud's voice is the most amazing
of all." - JazzTimes
to focus our attention on her brain rather than
her voice. On her original 'Below the Beltway,' she wittily juxtaposes
repetitious, singsong rhythms of political talkspeak with a jazz vocal
a funky backbeat. I'm anxious to hear what she'll do for an encore."
- Village Voice
"How many times have Jazz
and social commentary really intersected over the
years? There's Shepp, Mingus, Max Roach's 'Freedom Now' Suite, Charlie
Liberation Music Orchestra. It hasn't been done too often and certainly
recently. That alone could recommend this CD." - Cadence
one of jazz's best-kept secrets, a full-voiced, rhythmically assured
singer..." - Washington City Paper
"Suzanne Cloud doesn't
beat around the bush. Her songs aim squarely at political
and cultural conservatism. Her lyrics have a clever, inventive and
edge ...Cloud and drummer sidekick Jim Miller line up their targets and
fly barbs of satire and outrage." - Green Left (Australia)