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Celebrated Jazz Vocalist & Composer, Jacqui Naylor, Releases Her 11th And Long-awaited Album, 'The Long Game'

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Naylor remains one of the most superbly arresting vocalists around.
—JazzTimes
To support the album, Jacqui hosts a monthly live-stream concert series, called Home2Home. The next installment is Saturday, April 10th.

On February 12th, acclaimed jazz vocalist and songwriter, Jacqui Naylor made Valentine’s Day even “love”lier with the release of her eleventh album, The Long Game. The beautiful album, filled with both original and timeless love songs, highlights the singer’s magnificent songwriting and deeply rich & soulful voice on thoughtfully arranged songs.

The title of the album was born from one of Jacqui’s philosophies on life; “Keep going, stay hopeful and enjoy your life. If you continue to make positive efforts for your life, happiness is sure to emerge. We have to play life for the long game, never give up, and win in life and in love.” This sentiment rings more true today, during this global pandemic.

San Fransisco-based Naylor is best known for her ability to interpret a diverse repertoire, bringing together music from different genres and generations. On The Long Game, listeners will experience ethereal jazz arrangements of rock classics from David Bowie (“Space Oddity”), Peter Gabriel ("Don't Give Up") and Coldplay ("Fix You") that sit comfortably next to Latin treatments of standards from Kurt Weill and Charlie Chaplin. Interwoven throughout are the singer’s own compositions, written with long-time pianist, guitarist and arranger, Art Khu . “Her songs are Joni Mitchell good,” writes JazzTimes.

To support the album, Jacqui and Art invite fans into their home as part of their monthly live-stream concert series, they call Home2Home. (No mask required.) Born after their extensive tour that started at the SFJAZZ Center and ended after a six-city tour in Germany was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic, the next installment is Saturday, April 10th at 11am PST to accommodate their fanbase in Europe and beyond. In case 'ticket’ holders want to relive the experience, or missed the show, the concert will be available for 48 hours following the broadcast. Each show includes tracks from The Long Game, her extensive catalog, and other fan favorites. Top tracks from The Long Game include “Like Someone In Love,” “Love Look What You’ve Done” and “All My Life”

“Look What You’ve Done” is an original, personal, and hopeful song about finally finding love after a long journey. Naylor wrote the song not only with her own journey to love in mind but also that of her sister. She officiated at her sister’s wedding in November and was able to sing this song to the couple from afar at a recent Home2Home, live-streamed concert.

“Like Someone In Love,” was written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen in 1944. Naylor always loved how well it captures that feeling of falling in love, how we become different people, better, even empowered to do great things. She makes the track her own with a Brazilian- inspired arrangement- a breath of fresh air, free and interactive, like falling in love.

“All My Life” was written by Naylor for her partner, Art Khu, and for all those who feel they have found that special someone to share their life. The song celebrates how difficult relationships can be and how appreciating everything we can about one another can keep us in it for the long game, long enough to reap the benefit of love, long enough to see ourselves and the other person more clearly. Naylor says, “When my days are over, I’ll be happy that I spent all my life with you.” referring to Khu. She goes on to say, “this song is also for all my friends and fans in great relationships that they work at. It’s worth it! “ She placed this song at the end of the album to serve as the celebratory culmination of a great journey.

Naylor gained notoriety with an arranging technique she coined “acoustic smashing,” where she sings the lyrics and melody of a jazz standard over the groove of a well-known rock anthem or vice versa. “Acoustic Smashing marks a turning point in her career,” writes The Wall Street Journal. On The Long Game, this technique can be heard as she sings “Fix You” from Coldplay while the band plays a Miles Davis-inspired “It Never Entered My Mind.” On previous recordings, Naylor includes the Rodgers and Hart classic, “My Funny Valentine”, sung over AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top” over George Benson’s “Breezin’,” and the Gershwin Brothers’ “Summertime” over the groove of the Allman Brothers Band's “Tied To The Whipping Post.” “Naylor has the chops and sensitivity to pull this off,” writes New York Magazine.

The musicianship and camaraderie of Naylor and her long time band mates, Jon Evans—Bass (Tori Amos, Paula Cole, Sarah McLachlan), Josh Jones—Drums and Percussion (Don Cherry, Omar Sosa, Steve Coleman) and Art Khu—Piano, Organ and Guitar (arranger and producer for multiple artists and composer of “The Symphony of Souls” for The Oakland Symphony), shine brightly throughout this thoughtfully produced album. Khu says, when describing this synergy of these talented players, “Each member of this band is an accomplished musician and storyteller, sensitive to Jacqui’s mission and lyrics, supportive, intuitive and compassionate. Decades of work culminate in The Long Game as each band member uses their individual talents to contribute, shine and support each other. Jacqui’s interpretations are deep, thoughtful but also human and unpretentious.”

Naylor tours regularly throughout the world with her quartet, headlining esteemed venues and festivals, including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Germany’s Women In Jazz Festival, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, the Vancouver Jazz Festival, London’s Ronnie Scott's, Berlin’s Quasimodo, New York and Hamburg’s Birdland, and the Blue Note Jazz Clubs worldwide in New York, Milan and Tokyo.

Naylor’s original music has been featured in national advertising campaigns and her signature song “Celebrate Early and Often” was named by Martha Stewart Weddings as one of the best new wedding songs. The singer’s music has also been featured in television and film including a full-length documentary made about her called Lucky Girl. Her version of REM’s “Losing My Religion” was featured in the hit reality series “So You Think You Can Dance” and the artist’s many albums have been named in the “top-ten” lists of USA Today, Jazziz, The Washington Post and more. “Her songs are Joni Mitchell good,” writes JazzTimes.

Praise for Jacqui Naylor

“She excels as a sensitive song interpreter with unerring intonation.” —Downbeat

“Jacqui Naylor is the new voice of jazz-pop.” —Vogue

“She brings new twists and turns to the notion of melding jazz and pop tunes.” —NPR

This story appears courtesy of Two Sheps That Pass.
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