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Vocals and Fiddle. In what would prove to be his last recording, Joe Williams presented the recording debut of a serious vocal talent, Nicole Yarling. Yarling, a native of Florida, was “discovered” and nurtured by Joe Williams and this disc represents her entrée into recorded jazz. A passing of the baton.
Before this disc, Yarling was a relative unknown, nationally, mostly honing her craft in Southern Florida. Influenced by everyone from the Beatles to Stuff Smith, Yarling went on to perform with such disparate talents as Dizzy Gillespie and Jimmy Buffett. Her wide range of musical experience is put to the test in this novel collection of originals and standards. This is jazz. All Jazz.
This disc is full of scat swinging with such centrifugal force that Yarling often threatens to spin out of control, but some how always brings it all back home. An interesting mixture of Sarah Vaughan, Diane Reeves, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, Yarling compliments her singing with a formable jazz violin talent. Her voice and singing style is always controlled, never flashy, tasteful and urbane. Easy on the ears. She is joined by a piano trio with guitar (Henry Johnson). Williams also shows up for the duets “Blame it on My Youth” and “Who She Do”. He turns up solo on “Imagination” and “After You’ve Gone”. These are not his best performances, he sounds hoarse and dry, but his delivery is sincere and heartfelt.
Darling Yarling. But Nicole Yarling! She is exciting as is her repertoire. Her set includes Miles’ “Dig”, Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance” (disc highlight) and George Shearing’s “Conception”. For her compositional part, Yarling turns in “We’ll All Be Free” and “”I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (title based on a Maya Angelou poem) that are thoughtfully swinging. A super collection for those who like aggressive scatting and fine vocal delivery. Go get it.
Track Listing: The Best Things In Life are Free; The Way You Love Me; We
Personnel: Nicole Yarling: Vocals, Violin; Henry Johnson: Guitar; David Siegel: Piano; Jeff Grubbs: Bass; John Yarling: Drums; Joe Williams: Vocals.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.