Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Ya Ya Fournier: Bearcat

According to the cover of Bearcat (Random Chance), the title refers to “a person place or thing that is marked by a special power or force.” The description, we’re led to believe, is meant to apply to veteran vocalist Ya Ya Fournier, at long last making her recording debut. Truth be told, the moniker more aptly belongs to Fournier’s special guest, saxophonist David Murray. The centerpiece of six of the album’s eight tracks, Clifford Jordan’s title tune is where Murray takes off before leveling out for a sizzling “Voice of the Saxophone.” He adds an invigorating kick to his own “Live the Life” and “When the Monarchs Come to Town” (both written for a forthcoming Broadway musical about baseball legend Satchel Paige), then brings it all home with the simmering samba “Armando,” an intriguing bit of musical biography (composed by Ya Ya’s late husband, drummer Vernel Fournier, for her late brother, Amir) that carries the themes explored in “The Boy From Ipanema” beyond mere physical beauty. Along the way Fournier adds spicy dollops of vocal sass. Sadly, though, with her mushy intonation and enervating languor (stuck somewhere between Julie London and Jeri Southern), she’s merely an appealing appendage to a Murray masterpiece.

Originally Published