by Anne Carlini
Title – ‘Love is the Key’
Artist – Sue Maskaleris
For those not in the know, Sue Maskaleris is an award-winning pianist, singer, composer, lyricist, arranger and producer.
Born in Montclair, NJ and raised in Short Hills, she lived in NYC for 35 years, performing and touring the world as a bandleader and solo, before returning to NJ. Discovered by McCoy Tyner in 1987, he said she has “a touch like Bill Evans.”
Sue has played for singers Annie Ross, Abbey Lincoln among hundreds of others; worked with bassist Mike Richmond, Ron McLure, Harvie Swartz; the late horn men Don Elliott and Wayne Andre; worked on new theatrical works by LeRoy Jenkins, Geri Allen, Taj Mahal and Burt Bacharach.
Indeed, her songs have been performed by Bob Dorough and Roger Kellaway; and have been recorded by Bill Watrous and Bob Moses.
Her first CD, Unbreakable Heart, featured legends Eddie Gomez, Lenny White, Mark Murphy, Michal Urbaniak and Toninho Horta on her songs. Sue’s second CD of original Brazilian jazz, Bring Nothing But Your Heart debuted at #3 nationally, featuring Mark Egan and Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez.
Her newest work, Love Is the Key out now has a timely title song for these days of Covid-19 and racial unrest. Likewise timely is the track ‘March of the Refugee (Dire)’ which is about immigration.
3. ‘Love Will Overflow’
4. ‘March Of The Refugee (Dire)’
5. ‘Love is the Key’
7. ‘Você Pra Mim’
8. ‘Valentine’s Day For One’
9. ‘Summer’ (feat. Luis Simas)
10. ‘Fly Away’
11. ‘Live is the Key’ (Radio Edit)
On an album that also features Janis Siegel (The Manhattan Transfer) and the finest Brazilian players in NYC, it opens with the ticking metronome samba ambiance, and scat trades between Sue and the aforementioned Janis, on the fiery ‘Procrastination,’ and backs that up seamlessly with the sensuously lush bossa ballad ‘Bliss.’
The exquisite mid-tempo flow of ‘Love Will Overflow’ is up next and is followed by the Luiz Simas-penned, and imbibed with Portuguese verses within, ‘March of the Refugee (Dire),’ with the eternally timely message of the title song ‘Love is the Key’ (which also features a delightful solo by Grammy-nominated violinist Sara Caswell) along next.
We then get Sue’s instrumental written at sea, ‘Renewal’ which in turn is backed by ‘Você Pra Mim,’ a rather delightful and perky samba and baiāo, with Portuguese lyrics by Sandy Cressman, and then one of my own personal favorites, given how many I’ve spent alone, the witty ‘Valentine’s Day For One.’
This album of ten catchy Brazilian-jazz and jazz songs, nine with outstanding lyrics, including two collaborations, continues onward with an evocative soundscape found within flutist Cecilia Tenconi’s alto flutes wafting breathlessly on the soft, yet breezy ambiance of ‘Summer,’ a duet with singer Simas, and then the album rounds out with the 5/4 ‘Fly Away’ (where upright bassist Bruce Atkinson adds an R&B layer of voices), and closes on a ‘Love Is the Key’ (Radio Edit) [Live].