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Sunny & Her Joy Boys - Introducing Sunny & her Joy Boys

Stony Plain Records 

14 tracks of Jazz Standards

Style: (Early Blues Influenced) Classic American Pop, Swing and Jazz

Rating: Library Quality

Love it Love it Love it….that’s the first response that comes to mind when asked “..what do you think about the new release Introducing….Sunny and her Joy Boys?”

I’ve had this CD for a few months; I’m ashamed to admit. So yes, I’m quite late in getting out a review. Then again, the Universe always and perfectly times things in my life. Seems I have somehow most recently become absorbed and obsessed with early modern American music from the 20s to the 50s of blues, jazz, pop, swing, big band, and early rock and roll, but most especially that 30’s sweet spot of jazz. I’ve spent countless hours recently watching Modern American Masters historical documentaries of prolific early American contributions to music. If I only could have been living during the 30’s….

So to finally plug in Introducing and upon first hearing the sweet, clear and silky voice of Sunny, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Blues Blast had no idea I was ‘in to’ this genre. And some of you wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a blues CD--I can understand why. But those who know and understand the jazz-swing-pop tree that branched from early blues would beg to differ. And Sunny and her players give a nostalgic, beautiful and effortless rendition of these 14 jazz standards from the Great American Songbook.

Produced by blues music award winning musician and guitarist as well as co-founder of Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard has assembled an A-list of talented musicians to help him lay down the essence of the early great orchestral bands but with just four key players: Billy Novick on clarinet and alto saxophone, Duke himself and Paul Kalesnikow on arch top guitars and Jesse Williams on acoustic bass. Every player is strong!

When I try to put into words what I hear when listening to Sunny’s vocal jazz chops, I think of purity of tone with integrated harmonious phrasing and intonation; the words ‘sultry’ and ‘velvety smooth’ come to mind. The feeling I get is romantic nostalgia and sentiment. I played this CD as background music recently for a weekend gathering I hosted for friends ranging in age from 36 to 49 and they all loved it. None of them had ever taken a prior interest in or owned any jazz standard tunes or CDs. Without me baiting them by asking ‘how do you like this music”, they proactively asked me the question ‘whose music is this you’re playing, it’s great’. Now, THAT’S a good sign of a good release, no matter what the genre but especially a genre that most would think only older mature audiences would appreciate. Not so here. And I’m sure my 20-30 year old friends would also love this CD. I’ll be trying it out on them, soon.

Here’s a list of all 14 songs (and timelines) that you’ll enjoy when you buy this CD (which I highly recommend you do): “Strictly from Dixie” (originally popularized by Ella Fitzgerald), “You’re Driving Me Crazy” (a 1930 Walter Donaldson tune recorded and popularized by Guy Lombardo), “That’s My Desire”, “Stop You’re Breakin’ My Heart” 1937, “You’re My Thrill” 1933 Billie Holiday, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” 1932, “I Don’t Mind”, Billy Holiday’s “Travelin’ All Alone” 1930, “Today I Sing the Blues”, “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” 1931, the Ellington ballad “I Got It Bad (and that Ain’t Good)” 1941, the Webb/Fitzgerald tune “Undecided” 1939, “I’m Satisfied” 1939 , and “A Hundred Years From Today” 1933.

Just conjure up the feelings and visions you get from words like scattin’, ‘cats’, Harlem to Hollywood, Cotton Club, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and big band, to name a few. These words are the canvas that provides the backdrop for an indefinable magic of harmonic and melodic voicing, chords and melodies so masterfully gifted by Duke and his ensemble. I’m also moved and impressed with how each instrumentalist has showcased his talents as both soloist and as part of an interpretive ensemble who understands the concept that less can be more when complementing each other, as well as the unforgettable voice of Sunny Crownover. The chemistry is undeniable.

Whether you’re a guy or gal wanting to impress your woman or your man, you’ll want to light the candles and play Introducing Sunny and Her Joy Boys nonstop, over and over. You’ll set the mood and score points for having this delightful interpretation of jazz standards in your collection. And if you’re solo, lift your heart and give yourself the gift of this beautiful music of the wonderful 30’s. It’s definitely a ‘must own’. It’s not coming out of my player for quite a while. I’m addicted to it..

Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and was former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found on line at

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