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Larra Skye is an extremely talented young woman. Her diverse musical and non-musical background includes fronting a folk-rock band, learning trombone and guitar, and developing her writing skills at Canada's Ryerson University School of Journalism. Hers is not necessarily a jazz background, and we should not expect all of her recordings to be in the jazz vein.
That said, for her debut recording, The World Disappears, she assembled a crack group of excellent Canadian jazz musiciansincluding Adrian Farrujia (piano), Eric Boucher (piano), Jim Vivian (bass), Kevin Brow (drums), Bob Brough (tenor sax), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet and flugelhorn), Geoff Young (guitar), and Matt Stevens (guitar)who jazz up the proceedings considerably.
But, for better or for worse, Skye is the centerpiece of this record. Her voice lacks the edge necessary for her to be a great jazz singer. She lacks the passion and the sexiness of an Ella Fitzgerald or a Bessie Smith. In fact, her voice can sound downright amateur at times. After the first three tunes, the record becomes monotonous.
The album does have its bright spots. The music borders on smooth jazz at times, but the players are good enough to keep it interesting. Brough's opening solo on "Whisper A Secret captures the essence and the groove of the tune. The pianists accompany Skye very well, never soloing outright but leading her along the correct path. And Skye's compositional talents really show through. She is an intelligent writer, composing poppy tunes that have an adult feel to them.
As for The World Disappears, I would recommend waiting to hear Skye's sophomore effort, whenever it comes out. She is obviously very talented, but jazz is not the best idiom for her to express herself. She may be better suited to folk or pop, or even just focusing on writing for others. But hey, every artist experiences growing pains. At just 22, Skye has a long time to figure everything out.
Track Listing: Whisper A Secret; Turn Up the Stars; The Only One I'll Mull; Down on Your Luck; Open Up
Your Eyes; Make Believe; Everything; Love Is; Pretty Little Baby; Always Rolling Seven; The
Personnel: Larra Skye: vocals;
Adrean Farrugia: piano (2-7,10,11);
Eric Boucher: piano (1,8,9), organ (8);
Jim Vivian: upright bass;
Kevin Brow: drums;
Bob Brough: tenor saxophone;
Kevin Turcotte: trumpet, flugelhorn;
Geoff Young: electric guitar (1,8), classical guitar (2);
Matt Stevens: acoustic and electric guitar (7).
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!