Laura Fygi: The Best Is Yet to Come

Laura Fygi has long considered Julie London one of her principal inspirations. Yes, the lushly exotic Fygi, whose multicultural heritage is Dutch by way of Egypt and Uruguay, can smolder with London-worthy intensity.

But Fygi is a far more gifted vocalist, with a substantially wider range and significantly sharper interpretive skills. If comparisons need be made, equating her with Peggy Lee seems far more apt. Like Lee, she can swing easy and seduce cunningly, all while maintaining a feisty sense of self-reliance. The Best Is Yet to Come is Fygi’s 12th album as leader and marks the 20th anniversary of her solo career. Remarkably, it is her first recorded session with a big band.

Co-arrangers and producers Jan Menu and Johan Plomp have smartly placed Fygi in settings that recall platters crafted by Lee, Sinatra and their ilk under the hip direction of such craftsmen as Billy May and Neal Hefti. Along the way, Menu and Plomp make several enriching choices. “Smile,” too often misinterpreted as sunnily optimistic, is softly clouded in grey. “Too Darn Hot” rides atop a scorching, brass-wrapped drum line worthy of Buddy Rich. “The Good Life” slowly builds from gentle musing to impassioned vamp, and a pulsating “You and the Night and the Music” sounds as if it has been plucked from hard-hearted Hannah’s songbook. Even “Fever,” where you might expect the Lee echoes to be most evident, is distinctly re-imagined, its slow burn escalated to a three-alarm blaze.