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Monday, March 18, 2013

CD Review: RENEE YOXON & MARK FERGUSON – HERE WE GO AGAIN

Renee Yoxon – vocal; Mark Ferguson – piano and trombone; Jeff Asselin – drums; Joel Kerr – bass; Rene Gely – guitar; Frank Lozano – tenor sax; Craig Pederson – trumpet.
Self released, March 12th 2013.
(Review by Debra Milne)
Here We Go Again is the second album from up and coming Canadian jazz vocalist Renee Yoxon, who has teamed up with Ottawan pianist, trombonist, composer & arranger Mark Ferguson.  The project of entirely original compositions explores themes of love, the most poetic of which are, not surprisingly, melancholic.  As a result, most of the tracks are slow tempo songs and ballads, which showcase Yoxon’s clear, warm voice and Ferguson’s delicate piano led ensemble.  
The album opens with ‘So Far’, exploring maritime metaphors to describe a drifting relationship, and which features the first of several absorbing piano solos by Ferguson. Following on from ‘Drinking Coffee’, which would probably suit a Country  music setting better than jazz ,  the 3rd and title track ‘Here We Go Again’ stands out from the rest, with a dynamic contemporary feel, due to a combination of  change in time signature, and more active contributions from the ensemble, especially Frank Lozano on tenor sax. ‘Watching’ is particularly compelling, beginning with a bowed double bass intro, and includes a haunting trumpet solo by Craig Pederson.  
The theme of love and death is continued in ‘Canary’, Yoxon’s addition to that little known canon of songs about deceased birds (a small prize awaits the first reader who can name any of the others).  In contrast, when she is newly in love, in ‘There’s Only You’ and ‘Just As We Are’, the music is up tempo and swinging.  Lozano’s agile, lyrical tenor solos are an unexpected highlight of several tracks, notably in ‘Have We Been In Love Before?’, and ‘Sao Paulo’.  The latter is a Latin instrumental where the melodic line is sung in unison with the sax, underpinned by the rhythmic  ensemble, including Rene Gely on guitar. The blues work out 1-2-3, also provides some light relief, and gives Yoxon the opportunity to let loose some serious scatting, interchanging phrases with Ferguson on trombone.  
Overall, Yoxon shows promise as a songwriter and interpreter of lyrics, but the album would have benefitted from a broader variety of material.
Debra M.

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