Copyright Decca Records

A follow-up to my recent post on Nikki Yanofsky’s live Austin performance  with a quick review of some of her recorded material.

The NIKKI album is the centerpiece of her available music at this writing (Summer 2011). It features a mix of Nikki’s signature standards work intermixed with a sprinkling of original pieces. As I mentioned in the live performance review, I think Nikki shines best through her swinging delivery of Ella Fitzgerald styled standards (“I Got Rhythm”, “Take The ‘A’ Train” and “You’ll Have To Swing It (Mr. Paganini)” being the standouts on this album. Nikki knocks it out of the park with these songs — more than just comfortable with the style, her delivery is deft and precise but also joyfully evokes the spirit of this music. Ella would be (is) proud.

The remainder of the album is split between great renditions of bluesy jazz numbers like “God Bless The Child”, “Sunny Side of the Street”, “Over the Rainbow” and original songs … and this is where it gets a little dicey for me.

Though I am a big Nikki Yanofsky fan and love a some of her original pieces like “Bienvenue dans ma vie” (sultry smooth French jazz) and “Try Try Try” (Rondstadt-esk country blues), much of her original stuff strikes more of a pop chord and leaves me a bit … meh.

Excellent vocal work to be sure, but “For Another Day”, “Cool My Heels” and “Never Make It OnTime” don’t quite deliver the goods for me that she brings on the rest of the album. As I said in the previous live performance review, I find it a tough  traverse from Nikki channelling Ella Fitzgerald one minute, and then getting all “girl-pop” on me the next.

At the end of the day, Nikki is a fabulous album that I highly recommend. Any personal reservations I have regarding some of her original pieces are blown away by a swing’n, bluesy, jazzy, country Nicole Yanofsky that joyfully brings a fresh voice to the vocal standards …  more please Ms. Yanofsky!

Bonus (dude)

While I have you, definitely (DEFINITELY) pick up the Nikki Yanofsky Live in MontrealDVD. This DVD is a great get featuring an extensive track list (22 songs — well beyond the NIKKI CD release) and the audio/video quality is excellent. (No DTS but Dolby Digital 5.1. Amazon calls out the wrong aspect ratio …it IS widescreen if not HD.)

Though Nikki is still developing her stage presence, Ms. Yanofsky clearly has fun delivering hammer blows to the audience with “Lullaby of Birdland”, “Muddy Water”, “Airmail Special” (see the video here) and a crazy-cool version of “Old MacDonald”.

If, like me you find yourself enchanted by Nikki and her vocal style, this is a gotta-have DVD.