Nikki Yanofsky bounces between pop and jazz

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      On a Saturday afternoon, when most 16-year-old girls are trolling the mall for deals on lip-gloss, Nikki Yanofsky is hard at work on a new song. You can’t help but wonder if the jazz prodigy behind the 2010 Winter Olympics anthem “I Believe” would prefer to be camped out at the Chanel counter with her girlfriends, rather than perfecting melodies with her vocal coach.

      “A lot of people ask, ”˜How is it to be 16 and doing all this?’?” Yanofsky says on the line from her hometown of Montreal. “I tell them I’m having a blast. I never feel like I’m missing out on anything.”

      After you’ve belted out “O Canada” during the opening ceremony of the Olympics and collaborated with a Juno Award–winning singer-songwriter like Ron Sexsmith, one would assume that missing the odd slumber party isn’t too devastating. Still, it’s reassuring to hear Yanofsky gush as freely as she does about her studio debut, Nikki. Her excitement leaves little doubt as to how the songbird wants to spend her weekends.

      “The whole experience of doing the record was just so amazing,” she raves. “I got to express myself a lot more through the music and lyrics, and now people can hear stuff that’s my own.”

      While Yanofsky’s larger-than-life vocal stylings certainly garnered attention with 2008’s Ella”¦Of Thee I Swing, the live-in-concert tribute to the legendary queen of scat didn’t allow the Montrealer to prove herself in quite the manner that Nikki does. Moving beyond classic covers in order to showcase a handful of original numbers penned by the likes of Sexsmith, Feist, and Norah Jones go-to guy Jesse Harris, Yanofsky takes every opportunity on the new disc to explore her own budding persona.

      “I’m a jazz singer, but I’m also a pop singer and I’m also an R&B singer,” she says. “I think if you back yourself into a corner of one genre, you’re going to be missing out on the other great genres.”

      With her mandate clear, Yanofsky gleefully bounces between polished pop and soulful jazz. The playful, horn-infused single “Cool My Heels” and groovy, Wurlitzer-laced “Try Try Try” hold up just as well as “Bienvenue Dans Ma Vie”, a dreamy, lounge-y tune that incorporates accordion for a quaint Old World vibe.

      “I learned a lot about songwriting making this record,” says the Quebec sensation, who walked away from the effort with four cowriting credits. “Doing this record was definitely one of the best times of my life.”

      Nikki Yanofsky plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre next Saturday (July 3).



      Jim Fortin

      Jul 6, 2010 at 8:33am

      Attended Nikki's concert and found her performance very dissappointing, loud shrilly voice with no depth or body. After Pizzarelli's performance which exubed jazz, hers was amateurish at best. (reverb on a jazz singers voice??). A good country voice at best.

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