Julian Yeo | Homage

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Easy Listening: Crooners/Vocals Jazz: Jazz Vocals Moods: Type: Tributes
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by Julian Yeo

A singer with a love for 1920s and '30 jazz and popular music, Julian pays tribute to the vintage songs and the classic vocalists who he loves not by copying them or trying to recreate their style, but by singing in his own distinctive voice.
Genre: Easy Listening: Crooners/Vocals
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  Song Share Time Download
1. How Deep is the Ocean
3:03 $0.99
2. So Nice
2:36 $0.99
3. The Shadow of Your Smile
3:20 $0.99
4. Mon Manège à Moi
2:49 $0.99
5. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
4:47 $0.99
6. Bei Mir Bist Du Schon
3:19 $0.99
7. Desafinado
4:15 $0.99
8. Tico Tico
2:27 $0.99
9. Give Me the Simple Life
2:52 $0.99
10. Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries
2:07 $0.99
11. Just a Gigolo
2:55 $0.99
12. Besame Mucho
3:30 $0.99
13. It’s Been a Long Long Time
3:01 $0.99
14. You Go to My Head
3:24 $0.99
15. I Love Being Here with You
3:05 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
During the past five years, Julian Yeo has made a strong impression on the New York jazz scene. A very likable singer with a love for 1920s and '30 jazz and popular music, Julian pays tribute to the vintage songs and the classic vocalists who he loves not by copying them or trying to recreate their style, but by singing in his own distinctive voice. He brings back the joy and swing of the period in his own way.

Raised in Australia, Julia Yeo remembers hearing Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra's recordings early in his life. He took piano lessons and appeared in a few singing contests but did not perform music much during that part of his life, instead earning a PhD in accounting. He moved to New York City in July 2004 to accept a professorial position at Columbia University in its business school. “After moving to New York, there were a lot of opportunities to sit in at open mics at piano bars,” remembers Julian. “A booking manager liked my singing and encouraged me to put together a show. That is how I got started and soon I had a regular group.” With his Retro-Jazz Band, he has performed at various New York clubs including the Iridium (getting the chance to sing with Les Paul). He recorded Old, New, Borrowed, Blue (which brings back aspects of Rudy Vallee's style) and Unusual Passage, which is dedicated to Fred Astaire.

Julian Yeo's third recording, Homage, covers a wider area of music as he pays tribute to 15 of his favorite singers, ranging from Billie Holiday to Karen Carpenter, Edith Piaf to Bing Crosby. When asked what qualities of the 15 singers inspired and influenced him, Julian answered thoughtfully. “Billie Holiday's sense of rhythm is impeccable and she is able to evoke such emotions that one has to pay attention to her. Astrud Gilberto has a soft and wonderful voice that perfectly fits bossa novas. Karen Carpenter may seem an odd choice but who doesn't like Karen Carpenter's beautiful voice?. I feel such joy and inspiration listening to Edith Piaf. Anita O'Day always sounds fresh and there is a spunkiness about her that I like, and the same is true of June Christy. Al Bowlly is an international man of mystery, born in South Africa but most widely known in the U.K. Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote so many beautiful melodies that sound carefree but are much deeper. Carmen Miranda is full of joy. Rudy Vallee is an early matinee idol and had the feel of jazz. Marlene Dietrich always had a memorable attitude and it perfectly fits 'Just A Gigolo.' Nat King Cole had such a velvety sound. Bing Crosby's laidback attitude and his whole gentle musical personality were very appealing as he revolutionized the way that the microphone could be used. Judy Garland taught me in her singing how to communicate with audiences, always giving everything her all. Finally, Peggy Lee always had an understated cool about her that I admire.”

Julian Yeo makes no attempts to sound like any of these giants although they certainly would have enjoyed his renditions. He sings simply, improvises with subtlety, and always swings while doing justice to the lyrics. Because he looks for beautiful melodic lines and great lyrics, he only performs songs that he believes in, mixing together love songs such as “How Deep Is The Ocean” and “The Shadow Of Your Smile” with tunes that are pure fun (“Tico Tico” and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon”), exotic (“Mon Manege a Moi”), full of deeper meanings (“Just A Gigolo”) and timeless (all 15 tunes).

Joining Julian throughout the program is his regular group which consists of pianist Jesse Gelber, guitarist Nick Russo, bassist Doug Largent, drummer Kevin Dorn and occasionally violinist Alan Grubner (who is featured on “It's Been A Long Long Time”). It is obvious, listening to the music, that the rhythm section and the singer think alike, blend together very well, show an obvious affection and a deep understanding for the vintage songs, and do justice to the material. There are many concise solos along the way from Gelber and Russo that lead from and into Julian's tasteful and quietly expressive vocals.

Julian Yeo thinks of himself as a retro-jazz vocalist with a “new-old” approach. He sounds like he could have comfortably fit into the 1930s pop/jazz scene, singing with equal skill in a swing or a sweet orchestra, inspired by the relaxed and lightly swinging phrasing of Bing Crosby and the other musical giants while sounding like himself. One can easily imagine him touring Europe and the United States, and it seems only a matter of time before his infectious singing gains a much wider audience. Homage is a major step forward in his career.

Scott Yanow,
Jazz Journalist and author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film, Trumpet Kings and Jazz On Record 1917-76



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