Beth Yeshaya

Far Cry: Live at Studio M

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Like a growing number of her contemporaries, vocalist Beth Yeshaya believes that to attract a younger generation of listeners she can't limit herself strictly to tunes and composers generally associated with jazz. This is reflected in her debut album that comes with a play list mixing standards with elements of folk, blues, rock, and contemporary pop. There are what have become among her contemporaries obligatory tunes penned by Joni Mitchell and Sting as well as a couple of Yeshaya originals. This session was performed before a live studio audience by the singer with a large assembly of fine musicians and backup vocalists. The results are mixed, but hold out much hope for her future releases. Her "A Night in Tunisia" done with a small group literally swings off the CD as she inventively applies Eddie Jefferson vocalese techniques to this bop classic. Good stuff! On the other hand, there is a tendency to over-emote as on "Lush Life," where the lyrics disintegrate into moans and groans, and on "My Funny Valentine." "Fry Cry" reveals folk elements while a dark timbre is created by Jesse Levy's cello to create a feeling of depression. Yeshaya seems to favor the dark mood Jesse Levy's cello creates as it shows up frequently. In contrast, joined by the Vox One choral group, "Bye Bye Blackbird" is a bright high-octave vocalese excursion done with impeccable timing and phrasing and shows the singer can reach for those high notes without straining or screeching. There's imaginative improvisional piano by husband Adi Yeshaya on this cut. Yeshaya is blessed with all the vocal tools, and more. She just needs to get better control over them on a consistent basis. Jazz is freedom, but not anarchy.

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