On Tuesday, September 27, 2011, vocalist and songwriter Jacqui Naylor released Lucky Girl. The 15-track disc is issued by Naylor's Ruby Star Records label, distributed nation-wide through eOne (RSR-007). A full length documentary, also called Lucky Girl, about the artist debuts this fall.
With a wide vocal range and innovative style, Naylor is a rare artist, known as well for her own compositions as she is for her treatment of jazz standards. For her eighth recording, she stacks the musical deck in favor of her fans, who voted for the selected songs before she set foot in the studio. With nine inspiring compositions and six fresh covers, Lucky Girl is sure to please her dedicated audience. For over a decade, they have been captivated by her unique jazz phrasing, poignant lyrics and ability to mix genres with the technique she calls "acoustic smashing." "Acoustic Smashing marked a turning point in Naylor's career," claims the Wall Street Journal.
On her new album this technique of arranging, where she sings the words and melody of a standard over the groove of a rock or pop song, can be heard on Rogers and Hammerstein's "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" over George Benson's "Breezin'." It's a blend so seamless that it's quite possible to forget this is not the tune's original music. "Naylor has the chops and sensibility to pull it off," states New York Magazine.
More genre bending can be heard on Brent and Denis' "Angel Eyes," sung over a Prince sounding funk groove. And only Naylor can make Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" sound like it was written by Burt Bacharach. Meanwhile, Naylor's strong gospel influence shines on the Mercer and Mancini classic "Moon River," Gamble and Huff's "Close the Door," and her original "Nothing Could Be Better than You." "I wanted to write a gospel song to encourage people of any religion," says Naylor, a practicing Buddhist who sang in an all African-American Baptist choir for five years.
Indeed Naylor's longing to encourage others is heard throughout Lucky Girl, especially on her originals. From her New Orleans jazz-styled opening title track to the Bossa Nova inspired closing number, "Beautiful," her positivity is evident. Even the heartbreaking, "It Was Supposed to Work Out," seems to have a hint of forward motion. The Indigo Girl's inspired "Dreamin' Prayin' Wishin' and Wes Montgomery infused "Sunshine and Rain," speak clearly to Naylor's generosity of spirit. "Naylor's songs are Joni Mitchell good," writes JazzTimes.
"I Promise" was written for the wedding of her long-time mastering engineer, Michael Romanowski, and "You're My Favorite Person" and "Since I Love You" written for pianist/guitarist and husband, Art Khu. Khu is also Naylor's co-writer and the Musical Director of her long-time band that includes Jon Evans on bass and Josh Jones on drums. All are credited for arrangements and production on Lucky Girl, with the benefit of this close-knit band heard in the flexibility of the music. This is particularly true in the beautifully odd-metered "I Can't Make You Love Me," by Reid and Shamblin.
Naylor and her trio kick off the Lucky Girl Tour at Seattle's Jazz Alley (September 26) and land at Portland's Jimmy Mak's for the release date (September 27). Five nights at San Francisco's Rrazz Room follow (October 5-9) before heading to the East Coast. She'll return to New York's famed Blue Note (October 17 and 24), DC's Blues Alley (October 19), Philadelphia's Chris' Jazz Café (October 20) Doylestown's Puck (October 22), Hollywood's Catalina Jazz Club (November 15) and New Orleans' Snug Harbor (December 10). More U.S. and European dates jacquinaylor.com.
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