Joyce Elaine Yuille – Welcome to My World
(Schema SCCD473. CD review by Andrew Cartmel)
Hailed as potentially a female Gregory Porter, the singer Joyce Elaine Yuille has carved out a beguiling slice of soulful jazz here on her debut album. Born in Harlem and educated in New York she relocated to Italy, working with local groups in Milan and supporting Italian and international stars, including touring as a backing vocalist for Gloria Gaynor. Now the ever-inventive Milanese Schema label has launched her career by pairing her with Finnish tenor sax star Timo Lassy (also reviewed). Yuille has also had a hand in writing most of the songs on this album — with the addition of some well chosen numbers by Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye.
Accompanied by swinging finger pops and sparkling vibes (from Luca Gusella) Yuille opens the album with Follow the Sun. She possesses a voice which combines the sleek softness and beguiling roughness of a cat washing her fur. Come With Me features a major vibraphone excursion, though this time by Luciano Cantone. Too Soon You’re Old has a smoothly rolling catchiness, with precision drums (Ville Pynssi), percussion (Abdissa Assefa) and lilting vocals which suggest shades of Sade — though not in the lyrics (“Drop some acid”) or the blistering outro courtesy of Timo Lassy’s extravagant, gutsy sax.
Late I Rise is soulful, slow and considered and tender with Georgios Kontrafouris’s Wurlitzer organ conjuring Sunday church- window sunshine, followed by his incisive, buoyant keyboard work. Yuille’s great sense of timing and unerring instinct for delivering a lyric is very much in evidence in this leisurely and rapturous soundscape. Donny Hathaway’s Tryin’ Times is another meticulously measured performance with Yuille’s understated and carefully considered vocals supported by some lovely vibes, disclosing emotional colour and nuance in the piece. Lass plays a memorable fill before Yuille and the vibes close it out.
Just Say Goodbye is a highlight for Yuille, displaying her relaxed control which gently edges towards ecstasy, as well as being a showcase for Marco Brioschi on trumpet, playing towards the fade with a glowing, compact solo. Welcome to My World features Kontrafouris’s dreamily metronomic electric piano and sensual sax from Lassy, who throughout the album is the glue that holds things together. Make Right has a jaunty sweep and Antti Lötjönen provides sauntering rather than merely walking bass. Chaos is anything but chaotic in its impressively integrated rhythm section, with Kontrafouris and Lötjönen outstanding. Running For My Love has a beautiful birdsong flute solo by Alfonso Deidda.
The arrangements for this tight and inventive session are by Luciano Cantone, Luca Mannutza and Giovanni Guerretti. Joyce Elaine Yuille couldn’t have been provided with a better launchpad for what promises to be a stellar career.