Great Britain's superlative National Youth Jazz Orchestra, which celebrates its fortieth birthday in October (how the time does fly!), has had a number of topnotch vocalists through the years, most of them femaleJenny Howe, Annabel Williams, Jacqui Hicks, Lorraine Craig, Sheena Davies, Sumudu Jayatilakaand now comes their male counterpart, personable Atila Huseyin, nicknamed by the band Atila the Killer Diller.
To me, Atila hasn't yet earned the status of Killer Diller, but I'm a tough sell, having grown up listening to such giants as Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams, Bing Crosby, Matt Dennis, Dean Martin and, more recently, Bobby Darin. An unfair comparison, of course, but those are the benchmarks. Right now, Atila sounds more like a young Harry Connick Jr., which isn't bad but a long way from Sinatra or Tormé. On the other hand, Atila has plenty of time (I doubt that he's yet out of his teens) to trim the rough edges, enhance the charisma and work even harder on his diction and timing. He certainly has the voice, a warm rich baritone with admirable range, and that's more than half the battle.
Even now, on his debut album, Atila's certainly no slouch, swinging easily through the up-tempo numbers, handling the ballads with assurance and showing he's only a step or two away from becoming what he soon could be, namely, one of the finest young Jazz singers to emerge in quite some time. Right now he's somewhat outshone by the impressive charts, but I've a hunch that soon could change.
Annabel Williams returns to sing duets with Atila on two likable songs by director Bill Ashton, "Needs Must and "Someone, while Lauren Derwent makes it a twosome on the evergreen "Beautiful Ohio. NYJO adds a string section, conducted by trumpeter Evan Jolly, on "Ohio and Ashton's compositions "You Were Marvelous Darling and "Picture of the Future. The album's title derives from the fact that some of the songs are of fairly recent lineage while others have been around the block more than a few times. "Sidewalks of New York dates from 1894, "Ida from 1903, "Somebody Stole My Gal from 1918, "Chicago from 1922, "She's Funny That Way from 1928. On Ashton's perky "Matching Shoes, written to depict "hep cats and "jive dancing from the '40s, Atila proclaims that he is indeed a "killer diller.
NYJO is in top-notch form, and young Atila Huseyin definitely makes a promising entrance. We're sure to be hearing much more from this young singer whose abundance of raw talent needs only some fine-tuning before he joins the ranks of today's best contemporary Jazz vocalists and is perhaps even compared favorably to those who came before him.
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