Yolanda Brown has long stood out as one of the artists who should epitomise the ethics of this blog; She's young, exciting and bringing an abundance of fresh ideas to the table of British jazz, not to mention the fact that with a burgeoning list of significant awards under her arm Brown is an artist straying ever nearer to a mainstream audience - no small feat for a jazz musician in 2012. So earlier this year, as I skipped hastily through her debut album 'April Showers May Flowers', allowing only 20 or 30 seconds of each track to wash over me before resigning it to an alcove of my personal history, I couldn't help but feel downhearted upon hearing a record which adhered too strictly to a stereotypical jazz sound (Y'know the one) and not one that I felt was pushing any boundaries.
Luckily for me then, as I'm a big fan of the commercially viable way in which Yolanda is marketed (Her website's got an internal social media platform of its own and a full EPK, gallery and biography are readily available - BIG BLOGGER THUMBS UP) I gave the album another chance just before Christmas, and I have to say... I really got this one wrong the first time around. Although seemingly incorporating an array of influences from 'That' quintessential 80's jazz sound that so many, myself firmly included, dislike, 'April Showers May Flowers' is an album that utilises timbres from a bygone generation and transforms them with compositional prowess into relevant and refreshed characters of a new musical era. The record's opening track 'Dear John', a tribute to Brown's PHD tutor 'Professor John', is a triumphant and soulful excursion which eases you into one of the cleverest and most commercially impressionable albums of the year. My personal favourite track comes in the form of the sporadic 'Fine Line', a lively piece with an intense 'Stevie Wonder-esque' groove, and a piece that signals Brown's ability to showcase the aggressive side of her playing.
If you haven't listened to this wonderful new artist yet, now is the time to 'Get' Yolanda Brown