(updated 20 November 2005) Rich-voiced songstress Jacqui Naylor recently released one of this year's most ambitious live recordings. Entitled Live: East/West (Ruby Star Records (USA) RSR-004, 2005) , the album contains two full-length live recordings (one recorded at in the "East" at Birdland and one recorded in the "West" at Yoshi's) and serves as an overwhelming introduction to this beautiful and talented young woman's live show.
Consisting of both a variety of reworked well known hit songs--such as: "Once in a Lifetime," "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "My Funny Valentine," and Pink Floyd's "Money"--as well as her own originals, the album exemplifies the phrase "taking someone else's songs and making them your own." Naylor flows effortlessly in and out of the song mix treating them all as special moments.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Jacqui Naylor to learn more about her and her approach to music. Check out her comments in our exclusive interview.
Jazz influenced vocalist Jacqui Naylor, makes a strong impression with her ambitious live release East/West Live. This young artist tackles a wide variety of originals and covers over this two CD set. The double album was recorded in the "east" at Birdland and in the "west" at Yoshi's.
The first thing that made an impression on me was Jacqui's husky sounding voice. It's much deeper than you generally hear from a female artist, yet not completely unusual for a jazz or blues singer I suppose. The music is very subtle, acting more as a backdrop to Jacqui's voice then a lead instrumentation. It sounds very improved musically in my opinion throughout much of both albums.
There are some very strong moments on the first disc such as the cover of "Once in a Lifetime." This jazzed up version of the song relies heavily on Jacqui’s voice and the piano yet manages to uphold the powerful standards that the original set. This is one of the few cases I can remember where the cover song takes on the artist's unique qualities and retains the original's finest qualities. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” is an excellent evidence of Jacqui's obvious talent as well.
The second disc is impressive as well but doesn't necessarily grab a hold of you as the first disc does. The original "Calling You" is a nice moment on this disc, seemingly transporting you to a lounge in New Orleans nearly instantaneously. Another original, "Christmas Ain't What It Used to Be" is a highlight as well, with its funky jazz feel. Jacqui's voice is probably at its most Soulful on this song. A cover of Pink Floyd's megahit "Money" is the surprise track on the set. It’s interesting to hear this song not led by a throbbing electric guitar, let alone structured as a Jazz piece. It seems to work well though.
Overall this double album may be a bit ambitious if you are not already a die hard Jacqui Naylor fan. It is enjoyable in the fact that you get quite a lot for your money but with its length some of the truly great songs get a bit lost in the shuffle.
Regardless, Jacqui has a unique voice that will surely continue to turn ears her way, especially if her originals continue to be so strong.--Mark Fisher in West Virginia