Archive for the Valerie JOYCE Category

Valerie JOYCE – New York Blue 2005

Posted in JAZZ, Valerie JOYCE on December 20, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Valerie JOYCE – New York Blue 2005


Along with enchanting interpretations of familiar jazz standards…Valerie breathes new life into pop nuggets like Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight,” Jimi Hendrix’s melancholic “Little Wing” and the Beatles’ somber “Golden Slumbers.” Elsewhere, she turns in a smoldering “Fever,” soars sensuously over an undulating samba flavored “Blue in Green,” and swings serenely on “Weaver of Dreams,” which features some robust alto sax work from Lawrence Feldman. She also resurrects her own “Oasis,” a lilting waltz-time original from Reverie that has her ethereal voice fairly floating into the stratosphere.
Not since Cassandra Wilson’s Blue Light ‘Til Dawn has a vocalist cast such an entrancing spell as Valerie Joyce does on New York Blue.”
New York Blue is a collection of classic jazz, standards, and pop tunes that showcase the singer’s distinctively smoky vocal sound and nuanced performance. Producer David Chesky says, “Valerie has a great feel for the music and has one of the most unique singing voices I have ever heard.”
Pianist Andy Ezrin worked with Valerie on the arrangements for the album?s thirteen tracks that range from tunes by Cole Porter and Rogers & Hart to Miles Davis to the Beatles. They are joined on the album by musicians Lawrence Feldman on saxophones and Eugene Jackson and Tim Lefevre taking turns on bass for a live recording that is pure Chesky.
A new name but a great talent all the same. Time after time my trusty CD player has been subjected to great sounding but musically dubious recordings from assorted audiophile labels, which given their experience should know better. Well not this time. Valerie Joyce is a young Japanese – American jazz singer and pianist who has the talent and inherent musicial breath of vision, and plain good taste to make it big. She has a smoky intimate voice that works extremely well with the after hours feel of her sophisticated jazz-cabaret- style. Expect to hear more of this Lady. Valerie is joined by arranger and pianist Andy Ezrin. His arrangements and playing provide an uncluttered and entirely sympathetic setting for the singer’s voice. The band, Lawrence Feldman- with his lovely warm sax tones that compare with the likes of Stan Getz and a standout, Jon Hebert on acoustic bass plays with an understated but sure hand, while Eugene Jackson is the very model of discreet rhythm provider on drums, are simply superb. Tracks include ‘Blue In Green’, ‘Fever’, ‘Little Wing’ and a lovely cover of ‘Baby Can I Hold You’. Recommended. Fans of Jacintha, Peggy Lee and Cassandra Wilson will find a lot to enjoy here.
The trouble with jazz singing is that so many can’t agree on what it is. Those who love the vocal gymnastics of some singers with their improvised ‘scatter gun’ approach dismiss with a sneer those whose emphasis is on the expressive beauty of a ballad. It’s why Diana Krall’s lovely string albums have been dismissed in some quarters and why Stacey Kent, one of the finest interpreters of the great standards, remains relatively unknown in Australia today- except for those who know. Yet on hearing Krall, Kent and Tierney Sutton for the first time, you soon realize they have something very special- a distinctive sound and presence. And so it is with Valerie Joyce, a new name to me, but a great talent. In an era when young twenty-something singers are being hailed as the next big thing or the new Norah Jones, it is refreshing to hear one who is not only a class act, but is headed for the top. Listening to the Japanese-American singer’s subtly crafted ballad interpretations it is evident she has an affinity with the material. As she says, “I am inspired by the great classic songwriters….being able to record these songs with amazing musicians was a magical, unforgettable experience.” With her distinctive, smoky vibrato she gently unfolds the lyrics of venerable gems from The Great American Songbook by Rogers and Hart (It Never Entered My Mind and It’s Easy To Remember), Cole Porter (Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye), Alec Wilder (Moon And Sand), and Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke (Darn That Dream) as well as breathing new life into such pop fare as Jimmy Hendrix’s Little Wing and John Lennon/Paul McCartney’s Golden Slumber. And she is one of the few singers who can reprise Fever without me thinking of Peggy Lee. But if there is one song that is made for her whispered elegance, it’s Sammy Cahn and Jule Stye’s I Fall In Love Too Easily- for me the outstanding track. She is well served by her backing musicians especially saxophonist Lawrence Feldman who solos with consummate taste on both alto and tenor. Listening to her recalls memories of another era when songs were not only always melodic but well sung. A very special talent indeed!
By Kevin Jones.
Valerie Joyce- Vocals
Andy Ezrin- Piano
Lawrence Feldman- Alto & Tenor Sax
Jon Hebert- Acoustic Bass, tracks 4, 8, 9, 10 & 11
Tim Lefebvre- Acoustic Bass, tracks 1,2,3, 5,6,7,12 & 13
Eugene Jackson- Drums
01. It Never Entered My Mind
02. Blue in Green
03. Baby Can I Hold You
04. Fever
05. Oasis
06. Every Time We Say Goodbye
07. Moon and Sand
08. Little Wing
09. Weaver of Dreams
10. It’s Easy to Remember
11. Darn That Dream
12. I Fall in Love Too Easily
13. Golden Slumbers
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Valerie JOYCE – The Look of Love (The Music of Burt Bacharach) 2007

Posted in JAZZ, Valerie JOYCE on December 6, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Valerie JOYCE – The Look of Love (The Music of Burt Bacharach) 2007


When, as the saying goes, there is more than meets the eye, why shouldn’t the same apply to the ear? The sweet smile and the romantic design of Valerie Joyce’s latest album, as well as the outwardly smooth arrangements contained on the CD suggest yet another stab at the commercially viable intersection between Pop and Jazz. And yet, this lady certainly knows how to spice up a tune.

Joyce, after all, has been a recognisable voice on the American Vocal-Jazz scene for over a decade. She has never rested on the laurels bestowed on her bronzen timbre and silky huskiness, but rather dared to contrast them with World Music, tablas and flutes. She founded her own label and played the piano in a bigband for years before making her breakthrough and signing with Chesky. Listen to her spaced-out version of “Fever” on her previous album “New York Blue” to find out why Valerie Joyce has deserved her share of tenderness on “The Look of Love-The Music of Burt Bacharch”.

Besides, judging Bacharach’s music by the cover is an obvious, but dangerous mistake, which risks missing the point completely. Of course, songs like “I say a little prayer for you” and “Arthur’s Theme” are hummable tunes in perfection. But underneath their catchy shell hide eccentric chord modulations and lyrics full of bitterness, dark allusions, sadness and unfulfillable longing. “Bacharach has made it his trademark to populate his pieces with subtle twists and turns that burnish his inimitable footprints”, Ted Panken writes in the liner notes, explaining why Valerie Joyce has decided to make changes, but to essentially remain faithful to the original.

This turns “The Look of Love” into a classic interpretational album, instead of just a collection of covers. Joyce does not invest her time in shocking redesigns or bizarre turnarounds. She much more prefers to take the song as a given and then to build a relationship with it, which will transform both parties in the process.

Interestingly enough, this technique of initially accepting certain aspects as fixed and of restricting one’s own contribution to a clearly defined set of expressional tools has resulted in a paradox. The less the songs are inhabited by a wayward vision, the more personal they become. And the less Joyce stamps her ego on the tracks, the more she finds herself.

It is this paradox which renders each soft stroke of the cymbal, each bass dot and each carefully measured piano solo exciting. “The Look of Love” is an unexerted effort, rightly because it has been thought through with painstaking precision. If it is a romantic album, then it is so in a candlelight dinner-kind of way, but because it likes to play with fire. You’ll need some time to find that out, though. After all, this record is quite a bit more than meets the ear.
By Tobias Fischer.
Valerie Joyce- Vocals
David Hazeltine- Piano
Paul Gill- Bass
Tony Reedus- Drums
01. Walk on By 4:54
02. What the World Needs Now 5:44
03. Alfie 4:08
04. (They Long to Be) Close to You 4:28
05. A House Is Not a Home 5:31
06. The Look of Love 6:47
07. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head 5:12
08. That’s What Friends Are For 4:50
09. I Say a Little Prayer for You 3:49
10. Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) 4:19

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