There are many women jazz vocalists who have been inspired by Billie Holiday, but there is one who really creates the Lady Day’s touch without discontinuing her flow of notes –– Jessica Young. Based in Melbourne, Australia, her vocal style is tinged with impressive doses of Holiday’s intonations and phrasings.It is difficult not to feel that there is an inclination towards intensely romantic themes in her repertoire. Jessica’s 2017 album, When I Fall in Love, features 12 songs which are all about affection and Billie Holiday so much loved to perform, including the title song, a composition by Victor Young and Jeri Southern. Jessica’s rendition of this classic, plus the album’s opening track Summertime, indeed, as the other 11 songs attest, has a magnetic effect of overflowing romanticism and hypnotic touch.Her caressingly smooth lyricism, like how her influencer Billie Holiday was celebrated, will definitely lead you to “submit” to her yearning when she goes: When I fall in love / It will be forever / Or I will never fall in love again …. A ballad, it opens with a solo guitar intro –– it evokes the legendary guitarist Joe Pass –– then followed with Ms Young’s spaced out vocal phrasings; the guitar riffing augments her vocal textures.
Ms. Young does not at any moment sound in any sort of hurry, even on songs that gained massive popularity in mid-tempo renditions. She brilliantly slows them down –– I think it was all deliberate –– to encapsulate the listener into her feeling. Impressively, she creates a sense not only of closeness but also of belonging to her! But there was nothing unexpected in letting her affection flow with the sort of accompaniment she got with a brilliant trio: drummer Steve Williams, pianist Massimo Farao’ and bassist Aldo Zunino, with guest guitarist Eleonora Strino. On Summertime, a popular jazz standard by George Gershwin and Du Bose Heyward, Jessica introduces it with a stretched-out phrasing in the chorus. Not in a hurry, she applies a variety of intonations that create a captivating feel.
My Heart Belongs to Daddy
Drummer Williams and pianist Farao’ enliven her vocals with animated rhythmic and harmonic nuances in the background. Still, about affection, Jessica’s powerful vocals come out on the true blues swinger My Heart Belongs to Daddy, by Mary Martin. Farao’s piano solo works magic, reminiscent of Oscar Peterson and Kenny Barron, two foremost jazz pianists. Williams is quite at it, also, setting and maintaining a steady groove coupled with fabulous textures from the hi-hats and cymbals. This is a song that makes any father feel so happy and grateful for that gift of love!
Then the tempo goes a notch higher when Jessica renders her interpretation of one of the most favourite bebop jazz pieces, Blue Skies. The rhythm section offers a steady swinging beat as bassist Zunino and the drummer set the pace and Farao digs deeper with his piano solo.Jessica Young shines not only on the Australian jazz stage but internationally, likewise, and performs and records also in Europe and the United States. Her other albums include Live in New York; Live in London (both of 2015); self-titled Jessica Young (2012); Jump In (2007); and Lemondrops & Kegstands (2006). Back at her home base in Melbourne, she fronts her quintet, featuring guitarist David Gooey, pianist Min Yu, drummer Ben Charnley and double bassist Phil Rex offering a varied repertoire. Meanwhile, I think it isn’t much for me to suggest that the When I Fall in Love studio session in Torino, Italy, couldn’t have come out better. Jessica’s singing has an instantly hypnotic effect on the listener; and so are her accompanists whose styles accentuated the sonic textures they created, most outstanding being the brush and cymbal work by Williams and Farao’s pristine, jaw-dropping piano lines and chording. Collectively, the instrumentalists helped Jessica to paint romantic images with her words that create an irresistible attraction. Anyhow, the ultimate joy still comes when you listen to this album in full.