Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Nikki Yanof­sky was 15 when she recorded this de­but stu­dio disc. There’s no way a young­ster should have such a strong voice over such a range of ma­te­rial. But she does. The Mon­treal na­tive was a stun­ning head­liner at that city’s jazz fes­ti­val at age 12, and her live Ella ... Of Thee I Swing (2008) had two Juno Award nom­i­na­tions. She has also been a force in Canada’s pop mar­ket, and it shows on Nikki. She’s ha­bit­u­ally merry and buoy­ant, which could be an­noy­ing, but this mu­sic isn’t an­noy­ing at all. On “Take the ‘A’ Train,” we hear a voice as young and bouncy as her web­site pic­tures might sug­gest and to­tally en­thu­si­as­ti­cally jazzy, re­plete with all the form’s spe­cial in­flec­tions and some very nice scat­ting. The be­guil­ing “Bien­v­enue dans Ma Vie” is one of four songs she co-wrote with Jesse Har­ris and Ron Sex­smith. An­other is the R & B-tinged “Cool My Heels,” fea­tur­ing a gutsy Yanof­sky and ac­cents by three guests: or­gan­ist Larry Gold­ings, sax­o­phon­ist Chris Cheek, and trom­bon­ist Clark Gay­ton. Also here are a sexy ver­sion of “I Got Rhythm,” a lovely bal­lad called “First Lady,” and an over­the-top cover of “Over the Rain­bow” to end the show. Yanof­sky is an im­pres­sive singer, and she is gor­geously perky. Here’s hop­ing she’ll be in­spired to get a lit­tle grit­tier about her jazz work.

— Paul Wei­de­man

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