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Nicole Yarling: Joe Williams Presents Nicole Yarling

There’s no mystery why the late Joe Williams chose to become Nicole Yarling’s mentor. In a February 1998 concert recorded at Pittsburgh’s Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, the Brooklyn-raised, Florida-based singer-violinist performs with the same infectious blend of refined musicianship and exuberant showmanship that informed Williams’ concert and club appearances. A seasoned jazz-based performer, who has also toured for three years with Jimmy Buffett and headed her own R&B group, “the darling Miss Yarling,” as Williams dubbed her, interprets a challenging repertoire, ranging from standards (“Love for Sale,” “That Old Black Magic”), to jazz compositions (Miles Davis’ “Dig,” George Shearing’s “Conception”) to her own melodic, uplifting songs (“We’ll All Be Free,” “I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings.”) Sensitively backed by pianist David Siegel’s trio and special guest guitarist Henry Johnson, Yarling is surprised by Williams, who joins her midway through “Blame It On My Youth” and remains onstage to sing his saucy “Who She Do” with Yarling’s earthy, Stuff Smith-flavored violin obligatos. The CD closes with two Williams solo bonus tracks, “Imagination” and “After You’ve Gone,” reportedly the last sides he ever recorded, reminding us of his irreplaceable talent along with leaving us a valuable legacy in the person of the irrepressible Yarling.

Originally Published