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Jacqui Naylor: The Color Five

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To borrow a Forrest Gump sentiment, a Jacqui Naylor album is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get until you venture fully inside. As demonstrated on The Color Five, Naylor remains an incomparable triple threat. She can serve up classic covers with the best of them (witness her “Here’s to Life,” a shimmering treatment that the late Shirley Horn would surely cheer). She’s also a clever wordsmith, delivering top-drawer originals that range from sweet and tender (“History of Love”) to cheekily delightful (the funky brush-off “Drive On”). But Naylor’s greatest claim to fame is an inspired sort of musical marriage she calls “acoustic smashing.” Daunting enough in theory (the object is to take a popular rock lyric and lay it over a jazz standard, or vice versa), it is, in practice, an endeavor that only the very foolish or very brave would attempt. Fortunately, Naylor is brave enough to transform such outré combinations as U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and Miles Davis’ “All Blue,” the Gershwins’ “Summertime” and the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” and, most magically, the Kinks’ “Lola” and Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder,” into heaven-made matches. In short: Genius is as genius does.