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Nanaimo jazz singer releases first album in nine years

Narissa Young’s latest CD ‘Fever’ features renditions of jazz favourites
Last week singer Narissa Young, pianist Scott Arkell and the rest of her band released the jazz standards album ‘Fever.’ (Photo courtesy Dirk Heydemann)

Nanaimo singer Narissa Young’s first album in nine years is also her first as a jazz vocalist.

Last week Young released Fever, a collection some of her favourite jazz numbers that also draws from her Diana Krall tribute repertoire. While it’s a departure from her 2011 debut So Far, which she describes as a “singer-songwriter pop-soul” record, Young said on Fever her diverse musical background still shines through.

“It has all the influences that I’ve had so far, right from singing rock ‘n’ roll when I was 19 to exploring pop-folk in a guitar duo, through jazz band, jazz choir, a cappella – I think it’s brought all the flavours into it but definitely in a jazz vehicle,” she said.

The album was recorded over the span of two days at Cumberland’s Studio Live in March, with Young and her band – pianist Scott Arkell, bassist Marisha Devoin, drummer James McRae and guitarist Brad Shipley – recording all the songs together live.

Aside from “touching up” a couple of her vocal tracks, Young said most of what can be heard on the CD are the session’s best complete takes with “almost no dicing and slicing at all.”

“This is what they used to do back in the day is go in there and keep going until you get the take you want,” Young said. “Now with digital of course you can cut it up into as many pieces as you want and sew it up together, which is a luxury to have sometimes, but I really loved the experience. The whole band has to really synchronize and everybody’s just all in.”

The songs on the album range from duos to quintets and while some of the compositions date back to the 1930s and may have “outdated” lyrics, Young said she’s amazed that they’ve stood the test of time. In choosing songs to record, Young said relatability was important, noting that it’s a “gift” to be able to reach and have an impact on people through her music. She said “that’s the mission I keep going with in my life and why I keep spending all kinds of money to do what I do.”

“I wanted something that had a little bit broader appeal because I really enjoy the experience of playing for a room full of people and looking around as the expressions change and you can tell that the music has reached them at that point, and I love that,” Young said. “So any time we play anywhere, that’s the goal, too, is to have that real connection with people through the music.”

Fever is available here.

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