Jacqui Naylor journeyed to all points on her rich musical landscape during a recent show at Yoshi’s in Oakland, Calif.
Back in her native Bay Area after extensive touring, Naylor was loose and confident, kicking off the show with the Talking Heads’ "Once in a Lifetime." Her smoky vocals made the song soar as her band smoothly melded the music of Weather Report’s "Birdland" behind her.
The song is an example of Naylor's "acoustic smashing," her process of blending a rock song with a jazz tune. Another example came when Naylor sang the Gershwin brothers’ "Summertime" to the music of the Allman brothers "Whipping Post."
It’s a daring feat that works because Naylor smartly captures the spirit of the songs and lets it shine through in their new forms. Singing the Talking Heads’ cryptic lyrics, she matched the band’s exuberance while finding her own rich tones.
The show, a benefit for the Domestic Violence Consortium, also made clear that there’s much more to Naylor and showed why she’s among jazz’s elite.
She quickly moved into an original number, "Celebrate Early and Often," a signature song that showcases the singer’s warm touch with lyrics. The evening’s set featured a good dose of freshly penned originals. They were so new that Naylor had copies of the lyrics close at hand, but she didn’t need them.
Another stop on her musical journey was the inclusion of a few well-chosen standards. Her version of "Blossom’s Blues" was even saucier than Blossom Dearie’s original.
She was joined on stage by Art Khu on piano, Jon Evans on bass, and Josh Jones on drums. Naylor also invited 11-year-old Matt Wong to play piano and guitar on a few numbers.
With them, it was a journey worth taking.