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Raya Yarbrough

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Album Review

Raya Yarbrough is a most intriguing singer. Like Maria Muldaur, her music stretches across many genres, making the division between the styles a bit confusing if not irrelevant. Best known in Los Angeles, Raya Yarbrough shows on her debut CD that she is heading towards fame as long as she can resist being categorized. She splits her CD between jazz and pop, also including some selections that could be considered jazzy pop or pop-oriented jazz. A few creative high points should be mentioned. "You're So Bad for Me" has catchy lyrics that could result in the song catching on. Clifford Brown's bebop standard "Joy Spring" is given electronics and loops that make it sound like a very different song, even as it quotes Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring" near its end. "Dreamer's Ball" is an altered blues, while on "Mood Indigo," she sings vocalese lyrics that may be those of Jon Hendricks' to a Shorty Baker trumpet solo. "Early Autumn" is given a particularly intriguing treatment, featuring Yarbrough's voice accompanied by a string quartet. Throughout the set, her lyrics are intelligent and sometimes deal with unexpected issues, while the musicianship of the players is impeccable. All in all, this is a very impressive debut for the eclectic Yarbrough.

Customer Reviews

Gonna put this one on loop for the next few days

Awesome – This is not just another big voice taking a crack at the standards. I just listened to the CD for the first time and it is my impression that Raya has the chops to deliver powerful vocals and the confidence to step back and let us enjoy a full and interesting musical experience. From my perspective this CD is about excellent vocals, musicianship, and really fun orchestration and arrangement. From my perspective this CD took me through an experience of jazz, reggae, blues, gospel, contemporary, and even a touch of Django Reinhardt-like guitar in Dreamer's Ball. Hope she makes it to Barcelona in the near future. Instantly one of my favorites.

Its hard to say....

Ok Itunes you have really messed up this time. Five of the twelve samples are instrumentals??? I thought the idea behind a sample is just that " a sample" Are you trying to feature the music or the vocals? It would be nice to really know what the voice really sounds like. Unfair to you Raya, but I can only give this cd three stars as I really dont know the full scope of the cd.

What a find!

Beyond being a technically superb singer, Raya's tremendous depth of expression is breathtaking! She has an extremely sophisticated style which may not be for everyone, but it truly blows me away. The same depth applies to her songwriting (she wrote 8 of the 12 cuts on the album), with lyrics that are unexpectedly soulful. Awesome, indeed!


Genre: Jazz

Years Active:

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Raya Yarbrough is not an easy artist to categorize. Yarbrough (who plays acoustic guitar and acoustic piano) is quite capable of performing vocal jazz and has recorded jazz standards such as Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," Woody Herman's "Early Autumn" and Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring," but her original material is hardly the work of a jazz purist or a bop snob; the Southern Californian has also been greatly affected by soul, folk, blues and rock, making it very...
Full Bio
Raya Yarbrough, Raya Yarbrough
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Feb 26, 2008

Customer Ratings