Thursday, February 28, 2013

Renee Yoxon & Mark Ferguson Here We Go Again 2013

Canada should consider listing vocal jazz as one of their leading exports with the first collaborative work by Renee Yoxon and Mark Ferguson leading the way. Set to drop on March 12, 2013, Yoxon's impeccable vocals and the brilliant pianist Mark Ferguson run through a set of original compositions that focus on the ever popular themes of love and loss. Granted as a jazz critic the concepts are somewhat foreign at first, Yoxon and Ferguson form a artistic dynamic that is both intimate yet filled with great depth and feeling.

Yoxon, inspired to pen some of her own compositions and her creativity with the lyrical and thematic concepts brought forth is truly stunning. Ferguson has a most impressive resume having worked with Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett as well as highly regarded work on the small screen staying true to his reputation as one of Ottawa's busiest musicians. Yoxon's less is more approach invokes a musical integrity that is refreshing in the day of the American Idol oriented riffs and runs that take the listener on the sonic road to no where. Yoxon's compositions indicate an artist that knows exactly who she it, where she is going and just how comfortable she is doing it. Make no mistake there is no sophomore slump on this release.

"So Far" and "Drinking Coffee" are incredibly intriguing songs that paint vivid lyrical pictures while Ferguson turns in stellar piano work along with Rene Gely on guitar and Craig Pedersen on trumpet add layers of well placed flavor. "Just As We Are" stays in that more traditional jazz wheelhouse but with a sound that no one else is hitting today. Joel Kerr on bass and the brush work of Jeff Asselin on drums develop an interesting swing which is highlighted by saxophonist Frank Lozano.

You can toss in all the classic buzz words like, "old soul" and "organic" and while these may be true perhaps "refreshing" sums up the release best. Yoxon and Ferguson are a near perfect match and the remaining members of the ensemble are spot on. While I am admittedly a little burned with female vocals, I may have found a new favorite.

Unlimited potential! Yoxon should only continue to improve over time. If the more straight ahead jazz vocal riff is your thing then this release is money. No unnecessary riffs, runs or extraneous vocal pyrotechnics. Good tunes, a great singer, and a great band make for a near perfect release.

4 Stars out of 5!

Tracks: So Far; Drinking Coffee; Here We Go Again; Watching; Just Say The Word; Just As We Are; Sao Paulo; Canary; 1-2-3; Have We Been In Love Before?; Don't Go; There's Only One You.

Personnel: Renee Yoxon: vocals; Mark Ferguson: piano, trombone; Joel Kerr: bass; Jeff Asselin: drums; Rene Gely: guitar; Craig Pedersen: trumpet; Frank Lozano: saxophone.