Montreal-based jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky has released her distinctive version of “West Coast Blues” via MNRK Music Group, serving as an ode to the original writer, Wes Montgomery, and the mark that he’s left on jazz musicians and listeners worldwide. Yanofksy has always loved artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder and continues to pay homage to artists alike by putting her own style on some of her favorite standards. She does exactly that on her new album ‘Nikki By Starlight,’ out October 21st – a project meant to celebrate jazz music for purists as well as a new generation of listeners.
Wes Montgomery has made a name for himself in jazz music with his unusual technique of plucking the guitar strings with the side of his thumb, his use of octaves and his masterful execution of complex lines. The power of his soloing influenced generations of players who followed him; guitar icons such as George Benson, Pat Metheny, Russell Malone and more. Greg Phillinganes graces the track with a bluesy organ solo and accompaniment throughout, setting Yanofsky’s version apart. “West Coast Blues” brings a new energy to the standard with Yanofsky’s sweet vocal tone and her compelling use of dynamics.
“West Coast Blues” is the sixth single released from Nikki’s forthcoming album ‘Nikki By Starlight’ following previously released singles “Comes Love,” “I Get a Kick Out Of You,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” and “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado),” and “C’est Si Bon.”
The project comprises 15 standards from jazz legends Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday and more. ‘Nikki By Starlight’ was co-produced with the JUNO-winning producer/composer Paul Shrofel and features contributions from Stevie Wonder’s bandmate Greg Phillinganes, Nathan East (Bobby Womack, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson) and the iconic Cuban-American jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.
‘Nikki By Starlight’ is a mix of ballads, uptempo tracks and sambas, unveiling Yanofsky’s artistic versatility as a jazz singer. On this album she pushes her limits, choosing songs that are notoriously difficult to sing. She’s recruited some of the best names in the business in support: keyboardist Greg Phillinganes who’s played with Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton for most of his career and bassist Nathan East who’s played with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Lionel Richie, and the list goes on.
With ‘Nikki By Starlight,’ Yanofsky continues to prove her artistry – stemming all the way back to when she sang the National Anthem on live television at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in front of 3.2 billion people. Over the years, Yanofsky has collaborated with well-known jazz musicians, including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, and more. Yanofsky’s self-titled album ‘Nikki,’ released in 2010, gained the attention of the late prolific songwriter Rod Temperton (“Thriller,” “Rock With You,” “Boogie Nights”), who took her under his wing becoming her mentor, creative coach and musical champion. Her sophomore effort Little Secret, found Yanofsky exploring the velvet-clad sweet spot between jazz and pop with bold sentiments that signaled a self-assured coming of age. In 2020 she released ‘Turn Down The Sound,’ a 10-track LP (eOne Music) that showcases her independence and marks a newfound departure for her career as a young musician, earning praise upon release from Billboard, Uproxx, American Songwriter and more.
After stepping away for a time, Yanofsky writes in a letter about her homecoming to jazz, “My key still works. It’s not too late. Walking in on my own terms, even uninvited, I feel at home. You are familiar, safe and warm, and now that I’m here, I don’t ever want to know the cold again.”
Stay tuned for more to come from Nikki Yanofsky soon.
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