NIKKI YANOFSKY Nikki (Decca)
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