Jazz not Jazz • January 1, 2006

“Bernadette Seacrest And Her Yes Men Live”

There are two reasons why you want to become a Yes Man when it comes to Bernadette Seacrest. One reason may be her piercing eyes and her heavily tattooted body that tells you not to mess with Bernadette – and which by the way is a welcome change from all the clean pseudo jazz divas major labels wants to shove down your throat (although I’m sure she’s one of the nicest person you could meet…someone who sings like Bernadette can’t be bad after all). The second reason is that Bernadette simply knows how to handle a sultry jazzy torch song. In a way Bernadette is a modern Julie London with a punk attitude and a rawer sound. One listen to this live album and you feel beamed into in a small smoky late-night joint with a big glass of booze and the band and singer making music just for the fun of it. Bernadette’s Yes Men are Michael Grimes (double bass, guitar, organ, melodica), Aaron Cummings (saxophone, clarinet), Jason Aspeslet (drums, percussion) and special guest Noah Thomas (trumpet) on three tracks. And together they are a very tight band that sounds like they were made for each other. So it’s rather incomprehensible why the Yes Men had broken up recently. With most of the songs on Live written by Michael Grimes it looks like the Yes Men will be hard to be replaced.

Bernadette hails from LA and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1993. Before she went solo she co-headed The Long Goners in 2001 for two years exploring the musical world of rockabilly and country. So it’s quite a long way she traveled to the intimate jazz songs that suits her voice so perfectly.

The live versions were recorded on three dates in August/September 2005 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, plus there are four new studio songs. And if you need any proof of what Bernadette And Her Yes Men are capable of then just listen to their version of Gershwin’s Summertime. Starting with a great instrumental intro of nearly three minutes this song builds the tension until Bernadette kicks in with her seductive rendition of this chestnut that’s already one of my favourite versions. There are two more cover songs on offer here (Fever and an inspiring instrumental version of Duke Ellington’s Caravan).

But the original songs by Michael Grimes and Bernadette’s former singing partner Pat Bova from The Long Goners are what makes this album so refreshing. It’s hard to pick a favourite because all songs have a fine instrumentation and a heartfelt vocal performance by Bernadette. Although I especially like the songs Temptation and Tango that features Aaron Cummings on clarinet, an instrument rarely heard these days. The bluesy Nobody’s Cryin’ or the sad story of a lonely, left lover on Early In The Morning are also highly recommendable as are Smokin’ Cigars or Money…

Well, actually I could recommend every song here, this is simply an impressive album perfect for a cozy evening at home with a bottle of red wine, whiskey or whatever is your favourite drink.

Tracklisting of Live : 1. Summertime/ 2. Nobody’s Cryin’/ 3. Caravan/ 4. So Cruel/ 5. Early In The Morning/ 6. Temptation/ 7. Smokin’ Cigars/ 8. Tango/ 9. Money/ 10. When The Sun Comes/ 11. Fever/ 12. Wrong Turn/ 13. Money/ 14. Man’s Ruin/ 15. Rain | released 2005 by Bernadette Seacrest

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