Another new bright entry in the vocal galaxy that covers the San Francisco Bay Area is Jacqui Naylor as she so ably demonstrates on her first album. Naylor immediately brings to mind the great Billie Holiday, whom she unabashedly admires. You can hear that poignancy of a wounded doe on such cuts as "I Cover the Waterfront" and "I Love You So." Her voice assumes light timbre on medium to up-tempo tunes such as "Two Sleepy People." This singer also has an unerring sense of rhythm, pitch and feel for the meaning of what she sings. She sways along on lilting, bouncing number as "Can't Help Singing" and "The Way You Look Tonight" and becomes innocently absorbing on "Something Cool." But what proves Naylor's singing so delightful and engaging is her understanding that the best way to put over a song is to sing it simply and straightforwardly. No swoops, hollers, grunts and other extraneous Babel on this CD. While this is Naylor's show, she gets outstanding help from her musicians who seem very tuned in to the mannerisms of the singer's style. Bob Johnson's smoky tenor helps set the stage for several of the tunes and adds an appropriate coda on others such as on a very pretty, world-weary "Nocturne." Other times his sax weaves in and around Naylor's voice, recalling the way Holiday and Lester Young meshed. Equally important contributions are made by steady pianist Andrew Ostwald, John Wiitala on bass and Tony Kaye's guitar. This is a fine first effort -- or second or third for that matter -- from this talented singer who showers special magic over a play list of familiar entries in the Great American Songbook as well on some less familiar material. Recommended.
Jacqui Naylor Review
by Dave Nathan