181

Lyambiko: Shades of Delight

Ken Hohman By

Sign in to view read count
With her new release Shades Of Delight, African-German vocalist Lyambiko reaches for her share of the spotlight in the contemporary jazz diva category. While her debut disc Out Of This Mood successfully capitalized on her good looks and exotic moniker, Shades Of Delight makes the case that she could be a flash-in-the-pan for the Nagel Heyer label. Through a mix of popular jazz standards and not-so-standard African traditional songs, Lyambiko's quirky mezzo-soprano strains for feeling but ends up sounding like a jazz version of Sade.

Right out of the box, the pretense of Shades Of Delight is revealed in a cutesy version of Van Morrison's "Moondance." Lyambiko sings with the swagger of Vegas lounge singer and her embarrassing repetition of the theme at the outro is enough to make your stomach churn. One of Lyambiko's improvisational tricks is to stress unexpected vowels or syllables – some would argue the wrong ones – to create a unique vocal style. The problem with her approach is that, unlike Sarah Vaughn or Betty Carter, she is stressing them simply for the novelty rather than for the meaning. The result is that the lyrics to songs like "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm," "Tenderly," and "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" are drained of their meaning. One could attribute this flawed approach to Lyambiko's German accent, which surfaces to comic effect from time to time, but the exaggerated phrasing on "Black Coffee" tells otherwise.

On "Tenderly," Lyambiko is obviously shooting for the Sarah Vaughan style of improvisation, but she lacks the technique or range to pull off such bold improvisation. She fares much better on the syncopated "Morning" and her approach is quite compelling on neo-African tracks like "Malaika" and the call-and-response "Ilangamo," songs that offer the kind of drama she displayed on "Afro-Blue" from her debut album (a song she revisits here!). But with her multinational piano-bass-drums trio simply keeping time, it's a mighty long wait between choruses.

Lyambiko's brightest moment on Shades Of Delight is her passionate take on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi," where she communicates both great power and intuitive restraint within the song's shifting tempos. Perhaps this song points the way to stronger efforts from Lyambiko in the future. We can only hope.


Track Listing: 1. Moondance 2. Tenderly 3. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm 4. Lush Life 5. Your Mind Is On Vacation 6. Black Coffee 7. Morning 8. Dindi 9. Malaika 10. Savannah Suite: Drum And Bass And Bananas Ilangamo Afro Blue Revisited 11. Isn't This A Lovely Day

Personnel: Lyambiko - vocals, clave; Marque Lowenthal - piano, fender rhodes, synthesizer, shakers; Robin Draganic - acoustic bass; Torsten Zwingenberger - drums, percussion.

Title: Shades Of Delight | Year Released: 2003


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Schönbrunn" CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Troy Collins
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Bleak House" CD/LP/Track Review Bleak House
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Eos" CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Burnt Hibiscus" CD/LP/Track Review Burnt Hibiscus
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.