Sep 17 - Sep 18, 2013
“Naylor remains one of the most superbly arresting vocalists around.” – JazzTimes
This May, vocalist and songwriter Jacqui Naylor released her ninth recording, Dead Divas Society. The 15-track disc was recorded live at the historic Coast Recorders in San Francisco in front of an audience of fans not new to Naylor's eclectic song choices. In fact, the fans were encouraged to submit selections from their own dearly departed dead diva drawer several months earlier.
The Dead Divas Society release pays tribute to the singers and songwriters who influenced Naylor and includes standards like Mercer and Carmichael's "Skylark," sung for Ella Fitzgerald, Legrand and Bergman's "The Windmills of Your Mind" for Dusty Springfield, and Schwandt and Kahn's "Dream A Little Dream of Me" for Cass Elliot. These songs sit comfortably next to singer-songwriter pop classics like "Back To Black," sung for Amy Winehouse, "Love of My Life" for Freddie Mercury and "Never Too Much" for Luther Vandross. All showcase Naylor's unique instrument, a smoky yet honeyed tone, with a wide vocal range that stands up to the recording's fresh arrangements.
Naylor and her band are masters of bringing genres from different generations together in a way that sounds organic. Their signature technique of arranging that Naylor christened "Acoustic Smashing" has her singing the melody and lyrics of a jazz standard while the band plays a pop classic or vice versa. On Dead Divas Society, Bricusse and Newley's "Feelin' Good" is sung for Nina Simone over the reggae classic of Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff." Naylor never sticks to the obvious choices and includes lesser known gems like Haymes and Clarke's "They Say It's Spring" sung for Blossom Dearie, Mandel and Bergman's "Where Do You Start?" for Shirley Horn, Adamson and McHugh's "It's A Most Unusual Day" for June Christy, and Brown and Allen's "Gravy Waltz" for Sarah Vaughan.
Jacqui Naylor is not an easy artist to categorize. There are times when she performs straight-ahead vocal jazz, but at other times she favors more of a folk-rock/adult alternative approach. Depending on the mood she is in at a given moment, the northern Californian can bring to mind anyone from Cassandra Wilson or British jazz vocalist Claire Martin to Sarah McLachlan or Shawn Colvin - she is as comfortable among jazz improvisers as she is in the singer/songwriter world. During one of her live performances, Naylor has no problem singing smoky jazz one minute and folk-rock or adult alternative the next - and there are times when she blurs the line between the two.
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
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