The New York-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist delivers no fewer than 21 songs (17 on the disc and four bonus downloads) that showcase his considerable talents.
A two-time winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Sullivan brings five original numbers to the album, ranging from the catchy jazz-funk title song to the soft island-flavored “Summer Rain.” Sullivan then swings loose and easy on his song “American Jones,” playfully tossing in Louis Armstrong-inspired scats.
He effortlessly moves from jazz ballads to funk to bossa numbers. In addition to his own compositions, the album features a dozen songs penned by Rodgers/Hart, Gershwin, Porter, Jobim, and others. He also offers some lyrics to Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology.”
While the diverse material could easily send the album skidding off course, Sullivan manages to hold the set together. Like Harry Connick Jr., he is a singer whose enthusiasm for the material shines through.
Throughout the album, he is backed by a talented crew, including Lonnie Plaxico on bass and David Leonhardt on piano. The tenor sax of jazz vet David “Fathead” Newman, who died in 2009, is also featured.
Sullivan and company do an admirable job on the “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You.” He and Newman take the well-traveled song and turn it into a slow, sexy ride. They cover familiar territory but still make the trip worth taking. That can be said for several other songs.
Square One shows Sullivan’s versatility. It will be interesting to see what he does next.