LOVE IS THE KEY - REVIEWS
Allaboutjazz.com: by Geannine Reid, April 10, 2021
Jazz composer Sue Maskaleris has quite the arsenal of skills in her toolbox. A pianist, vocalist, and crack lyricist, she bestows wry wit in her approach to writing that harkens to Dave Frishberg. Maskaleris is a product of the rich hummus of New York schools. She studied arranging with Don Sebesky and composition at Manhattan School of Music with John Corigliano. This fertile beginning certainly was the seed to blossom her creativity.
Maskaleris is a respected composer. Some of her songs have been performed by Danilo Pérez, Bob Dorough and Roger Kellaway and recorded by Bill Watrous and Bob Moses. On what is her third outing Love is the Key, Maskaleris employs a cavalcade of jazz royalty, especially in the Brazilian idiom. The core ensemble features Wesley Amorim on guitars, Leo Traversa on bass and Samuel Martinelli on drums, an additive of twenty-plus guest instrumental artists and a choir size of vocalists that adorn each track, adding up to an epic undertaking of music.
"Procrastination" heads up the album with a heavy left-handed piano surdo rhythm. Maskaleris' satirical lyric style is on full display. Joined by the notable vocalist Janis Siegel of Manhattan Transfer, the two play off each other, trading scat syllables over the baiāo section. A beautifully crafted "Love Will Overflow," engages drummer Steve Williams, best known for his work with Shirley Horn, who lightly textures the mid-tempo tune, and bassist Jaren Bernstein, who also is a member of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Biden, takes a warming solo that highlights the melody with reverence. James "Doc" Halliday punctuates with well-placed commentary on soprano saxophone. With Darmon Meader of New York Voices and Mindye Fortgang adding ethereal harmony to the choruses.
The only instrumental on the album features Maskaleris' on piano, highlighting her dexterity and prowess as an instrumentalist. "Renewal" has a contemporary flavoring with elongated bass lines by 5-string fretless bassist Leo Traversa known for his work with Ivan Lins, and Tania Maria. On soprano saxophone Rodrigo Botter Maio doubles the melody with Maskaleris as the two outline the melody with affable qualities that lead into an epic solo by and GRAMMY-winning drummer Mauricio Zottarelli.
Maskaleris is a composer at heart, her ability to create thought-provoking lyrics and melodies is the cornerstone of the construct to Love is the Key. With almost thirty overall contributors to the album, this is no small offering. Maskaleris has a strong affinity for Brazilian jazz, but this album steps beyond the construct to contemporary stylings and beyond.
bebopspokenhere blog May 9, 2021
This CD comprises ten original, catchy, Brazilian-influenced jazz songs…a feeling that a good time was being had by all concerned.
Sue Maskaleris hails from Short Hills New Jersey, and she played piano and violin as a child, and later studied arranging and composition. McCoy Tyner met Ms Maskaleris at an NYC gig and became her mentor – he said that she had 'a touch like Bill Evans.' Her bands have performed at The Blue Note, Birdland and at jazz festivals such as the Lincoln Center, and she has also performed abroad in Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, and England.
The lyrics are interesting, concerning all aspects of love, relationships, equality, problems that immigrants face, and love for the planet. I laughed out loud at lyrics such as ' I got a double date with Ben and Jerry this Valentine's day' and ‘Love me Tinder, love me sweet, Who's gonna swipe me off my feet?' (Valentine's Day For One).
Procrastination is a lively samba with scat, Bliss is a sensuous bossa ballad with strings, flute and Latin percussion; Love Will Overflow has word-painting from the band, that is musical illustrations, such as the sax making laughing sounds, then falling cadences at the words 'Into love we fall'. Just some examples of how this music works.
March of the Refugee is sung urgently by a few voices, in English and Portuguese. Love is the Key is an appeal to save the planet, with a rhythmic, jagged violin solo. Summer and Fly Away are richly flowing tunes to celebrate the changing seasons.
An album which is well worth the listening. It is available now on the Jazilian Records label.
Roots Music Report by Joe Ross 5 Stars Feb. 21, 2021
Ever since she began piano lessons as a young child in New Jersey, music has been a big part of Sue Maskaleris’ life. Now, she wears many hats -- composer, lyricist, pianist, singer, arranger and producer. Her previous albums on the Jazilian label, Unbreakable Heart (2007) and Bring Nothing but Your Heart (2013), were very well received. Now, Love is the Key offers a gorgeous program of powerful songs that capture her stellar talent and affable charm. A 12-page booklet comes with all the lyrics, including those in Portuguese written by Luiz Simas or Sandy Cressman for “March of the Refugee (Dire)” and “Voce Pra Mim,” respectively. “Procrastination” is a witty opener, and later in the set Maskaleris pulls out all the stops to have some fun in “Valentine’s Day for One” with chocolates, ice cream, dim lights, champagne and roses. The music is arranged with a relaxed, impressionistic contemporary groove built on a foundation of her sophisticated piano chord voicings and synth strings on numbers like the dreamy “Bliss” and breezy “Love Will Overflow.” The title cut is embellished with seven background vocalists, and the album’s one instrumental “Renewal” is smooth jazz at its finest. Besides Sue Maskaleris, the rest of the core band includes Wesley Amorim (guitar), Leo Traversa (bass), and Samuel Martinelli (drums). Throughout the set, we also hear guest artists providing sweet instrumental flavorings of flute, clarinet, guitar, soprano sax, flugelhorn, violin and percussion. Love is the Key is an enjoyable album of sensitive, moving music.
The Sentinel & Rural News Feb. 1, 2021, by Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl.
Once in a great while, along comes the artist who has it all and can do it all. Sue Maskaleris is an excellent composer and lyricist, pianist and singer, arranger and producer. She was discovered by McCoy Tyner who took her under his wing. She is intelligent, charming, and funny—just listen to her lyrics and you will find all of that on exquisite display.
In her ode to a Valentine’s Day for One she sings about George Benson and Whitney Houston and that she has a double date with Ben and Jerry. My favorite line is “I’ll say, Alexa, play for me some Jazz but no Kenny G.”
Sue herself handles all the keys and carries the lead vocals. Along with her on this Jazz and Brazilian Jazz excursion are Wesley Amorim on guitars, Leo Traversa on bass, and Samuel Martinelli on drums. The great conguero Chembo Corniel on two tracks with many other guests including Janis Siegel on two tracks, as well.
The list of guest artists is indeed impressive but even more impressive are her compositions and arrangements.
Janis Siegel joins her on the lead-off tune Procrastination. Immediately, the Brazilian flavors are beautifully evident with the core band nailing it. Cecilia Tenconi adds a sweet flute with Negah Santos on percussion on this lively venture. This was enough to hook you for the whole album.
She moves to more of a lullaby with Bliss, then to a ballad with Love Will Overflow and James Halliday’s fine soprano sax and Nelson Riveros’ excellent guitar work. The plight of the disenfranchised and exiled is emotionally delivered in March of the Refugee (Dire) with what Sue calls the Dire Choir. The core band returns for this moving piece, with vocals delivered equally in English and Portuguese.
Chembo leads off Love is the Key. What a start to a cool and swinging piece with Sara Caswell adding a hot violin. This track got played several times in a row for me. You have to love the core band’s groove and Sue’s piano artistry is so fine.
Renewal features Rodrigo Botter Maio on soprano sax and Luis Botter Maio on flugelhorn. Traversa moves to the fretless bass with dynamic effect opposite Mauricio Zottarelli’s drumming. An instrumental piece with vocalizations behind, this piece shows off Sue’s composing and arranging skills wonderfully.
Vocé Pra Mim is also sung in both languages with Santos on percussion,Tenconni on alto flute, and Larry Tutt offering a smoking hot alto sax. The core band with Santos is tight as you could ever hope with Amorim on a lively and precise 7-string guitar. If you weren’t already hooked on Sue’s vocals, you will be after this piece.
Summer is one of my favorite songs on the album with Sue and Luiz Simas singing together. The haunting key and cool changes make for fascinating listening. Add Tenconi’s alto flute with the upright bass and the melodic voice of the piano and the results are enchanting.
Fly Away carries on the theme of Summer and is beautifully rendered with Halliday’s soprano sax and Bruce Atkinson on upright bass and Steve Williams on drums. Once again, it is Sue’s piano and her vocals that catch the attention.
For anyone who adores Brazilian Jazz performed by extraordinary artists, sung eloquently and with feeling, Love is the Key is right on. Sue Maskaleris is everything you could hope to find in a witty and soulful composer and artist. I couldn’t get enough.
Contemporary Fusion Reviews by Dick Metcalf, editor:
Beautiful Brazilian and Afro-Cuban jazz
It’s been (over) 7 years since I first reviewed Sue’s “Bring Nothing But Your Heart” CD, but her energy has increased mightily on this
Be sure to subscribe to Sue’s YouTube channel so you can enjoy all the other high-energy performances.
The keyword for one of the most enjoyable songs I have heard (yet) is “languid”...you’ll feel that too as you listen to Sue’s enchanting vocal on “Bliss”...DJ’s won’t be able to resist plugging into their playlists regularly!
There’s a superb sense of flying freely in “Fly Away”...you will be totally captivated by the players on this engaging jazz journey—I know I was; a unique 5/4 arrangement with a distinct rhythm and blues feel.
Though it’s one of the shorter tunes, I found the opener, “Procrastination” to be my personal favorite of the 11 exciting songs Sue and her players perform for you...high energy and high talent all the way, baby!
I give Sue, her core group and magnificent guests a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an EQ (“energy quotient”) 4.98.
JP’s Music Blog:
Singer, songwriter, musician Sue Maskaleris recently released her new studio album, “Love Is the Key.” It features 11 tracks that showcase the many different styles of music that Sue simply loves and will having you falling in love with also. The album begins with the ticking rhythm of “Procrastination,” which takes off with Sue’s vocal excitement. The tempo slows down for the gentle flow of “Bliss,” which wraps you up like a warm blanket on a cold winter night. She sings in Portuguese on “March of the
Refugee (Dire),” the choir sings in English. Sue delivers a swinging jazz vibe for “Love Is the Key.” She returns to sing in Portuguese once again during the samba-movement of “Vôce Pra Mim,” before finishing with a loving duet with Luiz Simas on “Summer” and the elegant jazz of “Fly Away.”
One of those hidden treasure players strikes again. Rolling up all the chops she’s honed by playing with everyone...she’s gleefully coloring outside the lines here, not sticking to her tried and trues like Brazilian music and straight up jazz, but preferring instead to take you on a tour of everything from 52nd St. and who knows where else.
DJ Batchy, aka Stephen Batchelor radio host
“Now more than ever Love Is The Key, For us to save all humanity. Do unto others and lend a hand, we need understanding. Surely it’s easier said than done, Everyone looks out for number one. But now the planet’s under the gun, We’ve got to save it right now, Rescue our Planet somehow.” Love Is the Key, Sue Maskaleris 2021.
Yes, people, message music so needed in these crisis times. Sue Maskaleris’ recent album decorates the top of Brazilian Bliss 133.
On “March of the Refugee (Dire)”: Powerful words. Thank you for standing up for these people. We do need to highlight their plight and speak out loudly and clearly. They so deserve support and a voice. This message is vital. Thank you so much for putting it out
there. Will definitely nightlight this during the show.
Audiophile Review by Paul Wilson, May 3, 2021
McCoy Tyner once said she had “a touch like Bill.” He was referring to Bill Evans. She began playing piano at age 4 and by adulthood had developed a love for Brazilian styled music. I reviewed a previous work of hers in November 2013. All eleven tracks have, to one degree or another, a tinge of Latini-inspired sound to them. Sue’s piano work is nothing less than spectacular, and perfectly in step with the overall compositions. Mostly, the pace is rather slow and purposeful. Her musical tone is more toward the melodic side. Her voice is also excellent, and she never gives the slightest hint she is overreaching her vocal abilities. Like her previous work I reviewed, “Love” is a Latin- themed work of vocal driven traditional Jazz that is exceptionally composed, arranged and performed by an artist known for doing just that.
Jazz da Gama by Raul da Gama March 23, 2021
This global pandemic has put so many artists’ careers on hold, forced performance venues – some of them historic – to shut down and, worst still, all but bankrupted so many artists and valuable industry professionals that global cultures themselves are under threat of being demolished. Fortunately the spirit of the artist has not been broken, nor is it likely to be, unless rained upon by brimstone and fire. We are all fortunate for the sturdiness and strength of the artist. It gives us hope; a quality that may be the singular, most important reason for the survival of our very species. Sadly, though “hope” and “love”, as we are reminded in the ineffable beauty of this music – on Love is the Key – by the prodigious composer, pianist and vocalist, Sue Maskaleris.
Miss Maskaleris has a penchant for writing music that is informed by the bitter-sweetness of life. Often her music is tinged rather deeply by sadness, but it almost never sounds hopeless. You hear this not only on the anthem-like “Love is the Key”, but is also heard in the wistful beauty of “Valentine’s Day for One” and – most remarkably of all – on “March of the Refugee [Dire]”. Miss Maskaleris unplugs all emotional filters as she sings Luiz Simas’ exquisite lyrics on the latter, a song about the migration of refugees marching with hunger and hope towards a better life northwards. This is a song that captures the epic sadness of refugees everywhere else in the world. It would well have been the apogee of this recording had not the other theme of this recording – “love” – been somewhat more pre-dominant in other songs. Of course, who can resist the lustrous soprano of Miss Maskaleris as she digs into the meaning of each phrase – something that enables her to give even the most mundane part of a narrative a seduction all its own.
Love is the Key also unlocks Miss Maskaleris’ other extraordinary artistic virtues – such as her ability to write songs with dramatic twists and turns – melodically as well as in terms of narratives. She also displays her recognisable ability for artistic riposte. The wonderful harmonic and rhythmic jaggedness of “Procrastination” is the best example of this although you may find a number of examples hidden like gems in a treasure-hunt on other songs. [Once again “Valentine’s Day for One” comes up as an example of this aspect of her songwriting imprint]. And then there is Miss Maskaleris’ ability to conjure sweeping visual imagery in her songs, which makes it so easy for her to seduce you into following her wherever she wants you to go. The samba/baião with Portuguese lyrics by Sandy Cressman, “Você Pra Mim” is irresistible.
This recording does something else for Miss Maskaleris – it raises the bar on that other crucial aspect of music-making: production. While she has never spared any effort to make each song a special “project” in itself, it’s clear that Miss Maskaleris has done something special on this album. Each song here comprised of superb inventions in each sculpted phrase. Moreover she brings specialty to each song by inviting other artists to partake of her inventions. The choice of these special guests here is inspired – the celebrated vocalist Janis Siegel and [equally celebrated] vocalist and woodwinds master Darmon Meader, for instance; or to employ the ingenuity of violinist Sara Caswell on two songs, the great Steve Williams and Mauricio Zottarelli, both incomparable drummers and the sublimely gifted Luiz Simas… and that is only a partial list of celebrated artists who enrich the music enormously raising the quality of the album to a rarefied realm.
Part-time Audiophile. The Vinyl Anachronist by Marc Phillips Feb. 24, 2021
Love Is the Key is billed as ten more original songs from Sue Maskaleris, notable because she’s wearing so many hats and doing it all so well. She knows how to establish a rhythm between songs, of exposition and denoument. That’s what I realized on the second listen, and that’s why Sue Maskaleris stands out from the crowd.
www. solarlatinclub.com by DJ El Chino Feb. 18, 2021
American pianist, vocalist, composer and arranger Sue Maskaleris presents “Love Is the Key,” her most recent and third solo album. Maskaleris, who began at the early age of four in music, at the hands of her father, bassist Steve Maskaleris presents on this occasion, her quartet made up of Brazilian guitarist Wesley Amorim, bassist Leo Traversa, and the drummer, also Brazilian, Samuel Martinelli. The New Jersey-born focuses on a repertoire that bridges the gap between Brazilian popular music (MPB) and Jazz, in eleven cuts by Maskaleris herself, with Portuguese lyrics by Luiz Simas and Sandy Cressman. Sue debuted in 2001 with the album Unbreakable Heart, while in 2013 she released Bring Nothing But Your Heart, her second.
The lively samba “Procrastination” opens the album with the prominent presence of Maskaleris herself in a scat and a brief but forceful appearance by Janis Siegel in proclamation, while Cecilia Tenconi is in charge of the flute solo. The nostalgic piece “Bliss” features Brad Baker on clarinet. “Love Will Overflow” highlights performances by Nelson Riveros on guitar, James “Doc” Halliday on soprano saxophone solo as well as Jared Bernstein on double bass. “March of the Refugee (Dire)” has Portuguese lyrics by Luiz Simas, while the lilting cut that gives the recording its name invites conga player Wilson “Chembo” Corniel on tumbadoras and violinist Sara Caswell. Inspired by Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias, Sue wrote the instrumental “Renewal” which features Rodrigo Botter Maio (soprano saxophone), Leo Traversa (bass), and Mauricio Zottarelli (drums). The incredible arrangement of “Voce Pra Mim” with Portuguese lyrics by Sandy Cressman, culminates in an explosive samba with baiāo; Larry Tutt on alto saxophone and percussionist Negah Santos make their mark. The sophisticated very elegant “Valentine’s Day For One” theme highlights a great Maskaleris vocal part, with a forceful scat, supported by the duo made up of Janis Siegel and Darmon Meader in the backing vocals. “Summer” infects us with a mystic subtlety right from the beginning. The heartfelt “Fly Away” track, featuring James “Doc” Halliday on soprano saxophone and Steve Williams on percussion, serves as a perfect epilogue to this wonderful recording.
jazzweekly.com Feb. 8, 2021
Worldwise-voiced Sue Maskaleris plays piano and keyboards with her core team of Wesley Amorim/g, Leo Traversa/b, Samuel Martinelli/dr and brings in some rich guests such as Manhattan Transfer’s Janis Siegel for a rich mix of originals and modern Portuguese.
Her own tunes have quite clever lyrics, as she teams up and scats with Siegel on the clever “Procrastination” with support from Amorim and guest flutist Cecilia Tenconi. Likewise, her duet with Luiz Simas melds her rich voice with Tenconi’s floating tones. The Iberian “Voce Pra Mim” is a dreamy samba with Maskaleris in golden tone riding the percussion of Negah Santos and guided by alto saxist Larry Tutt while a gorgeous
rubato leads into the upbeat “March of the Refugee”. Some modern musings that are reminiscent of vintage Steely Dan are detected on the pulsating “Valentine’s Day For One” hip “Fly Away”. Clever cooings.
by Rob Lester
Love is the Key
It's not just romantic love that is the subject matter on Love Is the Key, but the keys (as in keyboards), vocals, and songwriting all well handled by Sue Maskaleris in her third release. She sings of the importance of showing loving care for those with whom we share the earth and for the planet itself. Guest contributors include Cecilia Tenconi on flute and sax, the terrific jazz vocalists Janis Siegel and Darmon Meader, and violinist Sara Caswell. Oh, and how many recording artists can claim having recruited the participation of someone who's not only a fine musician and ex-flame from the previous century, but also one of President Biden's economic advisers? (That's bassist Jared Bernstein.)
Songs' characterizations range from the unabashedly erotic to the slightly neurotic. Examples, respectively, are "Bliss" ("Lie beside me when every day is done/ Intertwined we'll greet the rising sun") and "Procrastination" wherein she weighs options ("To do or not to do that damn to-do list ..."). And her "Valentine's Day for One" is a member of a very rare species: a genuinely funny Valentine's Day song. Witty and winking, it's also apropos in this year when many are isolated or separated from sweethearts due to health concerns. It's also contemporary in its humor, with references to Facebook, dating apps, pop stars, and speaking aloud to those technology-assisted personal assistant voices.
I confess to becoming acquainted with Sue Maskaleris' work long ago by happy accident, due to my own less than perfect memory; I bought her first CD because I'd confused her with a singer with a semi-similar name. After realizing my error, I liked what I heard. She's quite savvy, accomplished and versatile. (Fun fact: She also contributed to a rather obscure LP marketed to children, consisting of songs inspired by that alien critter from the movie hit E.T..)
But Love Is the Key has adult perspectives, although all ages could benefit from the title track's persuasive plea to save the planet and follow the Golden Rule. And what's more universal than taking in the changing of the seasons in "Summer" ("Flashes of childhood at the seaside") and "Fly Away" ("Each season segues seamlessly/ A dance that never ends")? There's much heart in her reflections on people finding sweethearts, suggesting that possibly "Love Will Overflow." Love Is the Key overflows with poetic thoughts and good vibes
5 stars Grady Harp Jan. 21, 2021:
Sue Maskaleris exudes talent in every area of music Singer/pianist/composer/lyricist Sue Maskaleris touches all aspects of music, bottom to top and demonstrates her extraordinary talent on this new CD that focuses on Brazilian jazz and jazz songs.The core ensemble - Sue Maskaleris - vocals, piano, keyboards, synth strings, Wesley Amorim - guitars, 7-string guitars, Leo Traversa - bass, 5- string fretless bass, and Samuel Martinelli – drums. Add to this a lengthy group of guest performers and the result is a broad spectrum of musical
liveliness! Richly complex but ultimately soaring, this is a collection of exceptional music offered by a lady of note and her fine compatriots!
takeeffectreviews.com by Tim Haugen:
A singer and pianist who also excels at arranging and producing, Sue Maskaleris brings her passion for Brazilian sounds here, where Wesley Amorim handles, guitars, Leo Traversa holds down bass and Samuel Martinelli sits behind the drum kit, thought there’s many guest on hand, too.
“Procrastination” starts the listen with playful keys and a very warm atmosphere as Maskaleris delivers a versatile and very charming vocal performance in the samba, and “Bliss” follows with a pretty landscape of cultured and emotive song craft amid the bossa ballad.
Closer to the middle, “Love Is The Key” recruits fluid Afro-Cuban congas as Sara Caswell’s incredible violin acrobatics highlight the memorable delivery, while “Renewal” displays strong piano work from Maskaleris as soulful sax from Rodrigo Botter Maio adds much to the timeless jazz climate. “Valentine’s Day For One,” one of the album’s best tracks, brings a festive spirit with saxophones, a flugelhorn and some really clever wordplay.
As we approach the end, “Fly Away” finds a dreamy place to reside where backing vocals from Bruce Atkinson add some R&B to the elegance.
A very lush, harmonic and melodic display of exceptional skill, Sue Maskaleris and company pull off a career highlight here, where each track unfolds with an unpredictable and easily enjoyable performance you can’t help but admire.
BRING NOTHING BUT YOUR HEART - REVIEWS
Michael Bourne, Host, "Singers Unlimited," WBGO.org
An extraordinary talent.
From Amazon, 5 stars: Sue Maskaleris presents a varied set of cool, sophisticated and very original Brazilian and Latin jazz, infused with vocalise, by an award-winning composer/lyricist, singer/pianist and arranger/producer - herself! Sue arranged and produced the project; played piano/keyboards, sang vocals, and added a few cameos on violin, Brazilian guitar, and electric bass. The talent seems never to end - the variation of songs here performed is astonishing; exhilarating music.
From Rotcod zZaj of Improvijazznation: The Brazilian jazz she performs is far out ahead of the pack. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
From LMNOP Magazine: This uniquely talented lady is also a pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, and producer...plus she also plays electric and acoustic violin, guitar, and bass (whew!). It's no wonder Maskaleris has already become an in-demand composer and performer. Maskaleris is one super smart and talented artist.
From Yahoo.Com: Smooth and balmy, Maskaleris' treatment of Billy Strayhorn's 'Lush Life' displays her vocal chops as a moving singer Maskaleris' affinity for Brazilian music is thoroughly explored...
From KAMP Radio, Tuscon, AZ. David Witter "I don't have a helmet!” (from “Baiāo da Aclimaçāo.”) Sue Maskaleris plays most of the instruments you'll hear on the album, AND she sings.
Los Angeles Jazz Scene 1/8/14 by Scott Yanow
Sue Maskaleris on “Bring Nothing But Your Heart” gives one the impression that she can sing and do practically anything. She wrote all of the songs except “Lush Life,” sounds quite at ease when singing in unusual time signatures, arranged all of the music, plays piano and keyboards very well, and along the way also makes appearances on violin, guitar and bass. She sounds so comfortable with the more Brazilian-oriented songs that it is surprising to note that she is actually a Greek- American. The large supporting cast includes many talented Brazilian and American
musicians but Sue Maskaleris is the main star. She often overdubs her voices to form a vocal group, shows that she is equally skilled at scatting and interpreting ballads, and the joy of her music is conveyed to listeners. This CD by the very talented singer is well
worth checking out.
Emusic 12/13 /14
The music of Brazil encompasses various regional music styles influenced by African, European and Amerindian forms. After 500 years of history, Brazilian music developed some unique and original styles such as samba, bossa nova, MPB, RAP, sertanejo, Brazilian rock, pagode, tropicalia, choro, maracatu, frevo, forró, axé, brega, and others. What most impressed me about Sue Maskaleris and “Bring Nothing But Your Heart,” is her authenticity, honesty and superb ability to multi-task so many instruments, arrange, compose and vocalize anything her ear can imagine. It is rare to see so much talent wrapped into one person, but Maskaleris conveys her messaging with modern times lyrics, coupled with masterful technique. I hope to see her songbook taken in by other artists as well, as this music deserves a wide based platform and is worth being covered for many years to come.
MIDWEST RECORD 9/29/13
by Chris Spector
]If we weren’t living in an indie world, Maskaleris would make you shake your head and wonder how she had been hidden for so long. A multi-field threat, she writes/sings/leads and has this incredible ability to put it all out, front and center, in sterling fashion. Indulging in her love of Brazilian jazz, this set reminds you of a bunch of different ones but nothing you can really put your finger on. That’s because it’s all original. Keeping you on the edge of your seat just to hear what rabbit she’ll put out of her hat next in the furtherance of Brazilian or jazz or both, this set is such a gasser you just won’t believe it. Not wanting to be labeled as just another chick singer, she’s endeavored hard and thorough to be so much more. And she has succeeded mightily. And if you really need some penumbra effect to pull you into the tent, she provides lot of that as well. Just a killer set with loads of heart that’ll jump start yours. A winner.
Audiophile - 5 Stars
by Paul Wilson
Between looking at the cover art and listening to all twelve tracks, the Brazilian and Latin influence is evident throughout this CD. Maskaleris is hugely talented and wrote all the music and lyrics, co-engineered the CD, played keyboards, violins, electric bass, percussion and did all the arrangements. The second track, The Big Tiri (Greek for cheese) is recognition of her Greek heritage and
her Father - his nickname is The Big Tiri. Listening to this CD gives you the feeling of being on a beach somewhere in the South Pacific, so sit back and enjoy.
Overall - 8 Sonics - 8
EXCLUSIVE MAGAZINE by Anne Carlini Feb. 2, 2021:
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].
Well, given the cover photo and the fact that Bring Nothing but your Heart is on the Jazilian label, I expected Braziliana from Sue Maskaleris but not this mixture of trad and delightfully mutated versions. The quirky title cut kicks off the CD, and if you consider what the nomenclature is really hinting at, then you'll be ready for the steamy lyrics she penned. In fact, except for one Strayhorn cut, she wrote and composed everything here while playing piano, guitar, violin, bass, and percussion along with her band, then plotted the superb arrangements and handled the production work, everything in fact except for overhauling the studio itself... and she probably did that too. That lead-off cut is difficult to describe precisely. Containing atonalities, tempo changes, shifted modalities, and an almost Michael Mantler-esque musical mindset at times, it nonetheless is distinctly trad-cored. Then there are those lyrics, all the more charged through the fact that Maskaleris is glamour/centerfold beautiful (yep, I'm a chauvinist!). Sue's been dubbed "the female Michael Franks" due to oft erotically playful and deceptively innocent verses, and the honorific is apt, but I'll dub in one more factor: she lushly captures the sensuality of Lonnie Liston Smith. The Big Tiri follows, a swingin' scatty-ish instrumental workout that more nakedly lays out what a great basic band she has backing her...augmented by appearances by Terry Silverlight, Mark Egan, Randy Weinstein, Steve Sacks, and others.
Her piano work in Two Ducklings is brilliant, simple but oh so perfect. To have added one more note or sped up the tempo one beat would've been to ruin the lyrical quality of the melodics. The take on Lush Life is delicious, trad jazz taken to Latin strains, the two bedding down blissfully like the couple inferred in the lead track, but skip over to O.C.D. for more of the gentle but notable deviations from orthodoxy. Maskaleris enjoys the admiration of many jazz notables (Lenny White, Mike Urbaniak, Toninho Horta, Mark Murphy, etc.), but I'm telling you here and now she's every inch their equal or, in Horta's case, awfully close. What more can I say? Only this: Bring Nothing but your Heart is decidedly Zoho label quality, even though it's independently released.
Jared Bernstein’s On the Economy blog 10/27/13
First, the great Sue Maskaleris (and old friend whose music I’ve featured here before)-her new album is deservedly the rage...BTW, her song “The Meaning” should, IMHO, be everyone’s new favorite X-mas song.
(Note: Jared, President Biden’s economic adviser and Chief Economic Adviser during the Obama years plays bass on “Love Will Overflow” from “Love Is The Key.”)
UNBREAKABLE HEART - REVIEWS
allaboutjazz.com 7/2/01 by David Nathan
She sings, she scats, she composes, she arranges, she plays piano, keyboards, percussion, recorder and violin. Not all at once, of course, it just sounds like it. Sue is a very busy person
on this her maiden album. This busyness permeates several of the tracks whose objective seems to be to create a myriad of multi-dimensional aural sensations.
She is extraordinarily talented, just bursting with it. There is much fun and intriguing music on this album played by extraordinary performers in addition to Maskaleris. The back and forth between her and hip icon Mark Murphy on “Scat!” alone is worth the price of admission. On “The Love Within” the singer opens with just guitar in support and things stay relatively simple throughout the tune allowing one to appreciate the appealing sonority of her voice. “I Can’t Cry Over You Any More” has a Motown feel and swings. “Younger Dreams” with quirky rhythmic patterns turns into a wild musical free for all filled with eerie ear catching melodies pushed along by Maskaleris, Doc Halliday, Eddie Gomez and Lenny White. It leaves one breathless. There’s much to rejoice over in Unbreakable Heart.
jazzreview.com: Jazz at a Glance Vol. 149 by Lee Prosser
Sue Maskaleris is a powerhouse of a performer, her talents as a jazz vocalist, pianist, violinist, arranger, composer, and recorder performer are readily evident in the Brazilian jazz/contemporary jazz CD release, “Unbreakable Heart.” Any performer who can master the sounds of the recorder instrument for jazz performances deserves attention and praise. She does it all with ease and honest perfect of feeling.
This CD collection sparkles with imagination and sensitivity with its 13 songs. Each song expresses a jazz motif in a flawless setting. Some of the songs will ignite feelings of longing while others will charm with their lively Brazilian tempo, but each is a surprise and highly enjoyable. The solo work on this collection is extraordinary and memorable, first rate performances.
If you are looking for something extraordinary, something with unusual music & lyrcis, something with outstanding solo performances give a listen. It is an entertainment joy, full of life and emotion. A winner in all ways.
Sue Maskaleris is a great talent. “Unbreakable Heart” deserves a lot of airplay time. Excellent collection.
Panorama Magazine of the Americas, Puerto Rico Vol. 3 #2, 2002
In her first solo album, the pianist, composer and singer Sue Maskaleris, accompanied by a first class group of musicians, presents a varied and enjoyable record, on a jazz wavelength with Brazilian influences. Most of the cuts on the record are winners of various prizes.
A notable aspect of this recording is the fact that she composed, wrote, the lyrics and arranged all the cuts, furthermore produced, played the piano and of course sang them: without doubt, an impressive demonstration of something we call talent, which we rarely have the opportunity to see or hear nowadays in the studio or on the radio.