Susie Meissner

I Wish I Knew

Label: Lydian Jazz Records, LLC
Release Date: July 17th, 2020


Susie Meissner | vocals
John Shaddy | piano
Lee Smith | bass
Byron Landham | drums
Paul Meyers | guitar
Larry McKenna | saxophone
John Swana | trumpet
Ken Peplowski | clarinet

“New Jersey is home to a lot of fine vocalists, and one of the best of them is SUSIE MEISSNER.  Just dig her new album, I Wish I Knew (Lydian Jazz), and you will understand that statement.  She combines a her smooth and appealing voice with great taste in material, impeccable phrasing full of jazz influences, and perceptive choices in deciding which musicians to support her.  This collection has 12 songs, all terrific, but none overdone.  The opener, “The Great City,” is probably the least familiar on the program, but it sets a nicely swinging base for what is to come, “I Wish I Knew,” “It Could Happen to You,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face,” “Poinciana,” “Alfie,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “The Shadow of Your Smile ,” “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” “In a Mellow Tone,” “You Go to My Head,” and a fitting closer, “The Party’s Over.” Mckenna, Peplowski, Swana and Shaddy all have ample solo space, and each is superb.  McKenna is among the most under-recorded great players on the scene, and just hearing him on “Alfie” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” as well as his exchanges with Peplowski on “It Could Happen to You,” are reason enough to add this album to your library.  (”
— Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz

…Susie’s fourth CD, I Wish I Knew (out July 17th, 2020, via Lydian Jazz Records) is the singer’s second release featuring a stellar group of Philly-based musicians: trumpeter John Swana, saxophonist Larry McKenna, bassist Lee Smith and drummer Byron Landham.

In addition, Meissner invited some longtime collaborators from outside Philadelphia: pianist/arranger John Shaddy, guitarist Paul Meyers and master clarinetist Ken Peplowski.

Opening with the robust, yet refined swing of ‘The Great City,’ itself an homage to New York by Curtis Lewis, for my money the album just gets better and better throughout its wondrous collection of 12 new recordings.

Obviously comfortable at any tempo, next up is the dulcet piano lullaby title track, ‘I Wish I Knew,’ which is backed seamlessly by the calmly collected ‘It Could Happen to You’ (Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke), the beautiful cut from the 1956 musical My Fair Lady, ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,’ and both the gentle hipsway of ‘Poinciana’ (Nat Simon with lyrics by Buddy Bernier), and a stunning seven minute rendition of the stirring Burt Bacharach and Hal David track ‘Alfie.’

From the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I, we then get a simply magnificent ‘Hello Young Lovers,’ ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’ (better known as the Love Theme from The Sandpiper), before another stand out cut, the timeless Cole Porter ballad ‘Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye’ (which, once again, features McKenna on saxophone).

This quite purposely heartfelt, and emotively passionate album then rounds out with the Duke Ellington-composed ‘In a Mellow Time,’ the J. Fred Coots with lyrics by Haven Gillespie musical wonderment of ‘You Go to My Head,’ before finally coming to a triumphant close, and one highlighted by an enthralling bass solo by Smith, on ‘The Party’s Over’ (first introduced in the 1956 musical comedy Bells Are Ringing by Judy Holliday).

— Anne Carlini, Exclusive Magazine