October 22, 2018. It’s always exciting to come across a jazz vocal album that is eclectic while remaining true to jazz art form. It’s even more exciting when the vocalist is relatively unknown. Flying is a great example of how Johnaye Kendrick has used her jazz education to come into her own.
Kendrick’s choice of personnel couldn’t have been better – pianist and keyboardist Dawn Clement is the perfect accompanist for her wide range. Bassist Chris Smyser and drummer D’Vonne Lewis help to carry each of the many styles covered on this album. The addition of Michael Nicolella’s guitar and the occasional appearance of Kendrick’s harmonium add that certain je ne sais quoi.
Johnaye truly puts her signature on the standards that are presented here. “It Could Happen To You” and “The Very Thought of You” make one imagine how fun it would be to see them performed in concert- plenty of improv, plenty of swinging. “I’ve Got No Strings” is an unexpected selection, and bring a neo soul vibe to the party.
Johnaye’s original compositions prove that she is a true force on the jazz scene. “You Two” is a lovely, honest tune written about, and for, her twin daughters. “Flying” is an inspirational song about finding your voice. This is the perfect title track for this record, as it is apparent that Johnaye Kendrick is at the top of her game.