YolanDa Brown – April Showers, May Flowers: Live Sessions – Out 29th July 2013

Winner of two MOBO awards, YolanDa Brown brings true pedigree to this live album, ten tracks captured at a gig in London that showcase some genuinely top level musicianship. Brown is one of the most noted saxophonists in the UK, playing straight jazz of the best kind. There’s no doubt that free form experimental jazz has its place, but this is accessible, strong, and has no weak link anywhere in the band.

An early highlight though strays from the jazz template to bring in a reggae feel. ‘Tokyo Sunset’ builds the sax in over an offbeat organ and drum opening, blending two genres brilliantly. There are mellower sections that help the more uptempo reggae sections stand out, and some excellent harmonising between the electric guitar and the sax at several points.

Another highlight, ‘Heartbeat’, is simple but effective, with chilled chords complimenting a beautifully played saxophone melody. And it’s this that most marks this LP out – the sheer quality of the saxophone. YolanDa Brown certainly knows what she’s doing with that reed.

For those raised on the ‘verse/chorus’ stylings of most popular music genres, this one may take you a few listens to get your head around. But stick with it – it flows more than you might be used to, but there are rewards if you get to know the tracks on offer.

Review by Carl Ysis

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