Back in July 2019 the Cellar Live released Blue Heaven by the Armenian born vocalist Lucy Yeghiazaryan. I did not pickup on the album until late 2020, which is a shame as I should have liked to have enjoyed this album for longer than I have to date. Blue Heaven consists of eleven tracks, all of which are covers including several usual suspects. However, although the content may be familiar the style and delivery are less so.
When listening to Yeghiazaryan, one is struck by the fact that despite her strong presence musically, each performance seems less about her, and more about the ongoing story of that song, to which she is but one contributor. This idea, that jazz does not have definitive or quintessential versions pushes up against the encroaching creep of jazz’s “classicization,” empowering a more authentic & folkloric approach to performing, listening and appreciating this music.Andrew Scott, Blue Heaven liner notes, 2019
Throughout the album the emphasis is on the storytelling with the right accompaniment, or not in the case of ‘Love Isn’t Everything’. Greg Ruggiero on guitar is superb when leading the front line, his tone is warm and full, and beautifully balanced against the vocals of Lucy Yeghiazaryan. Likewise, Cellar Live stalwart Grant Stewart on tenor sax does nothing to detract from the vocals but when he can solo and shine, he takes it – as he does on the opening track ‘Sweet Pumpkin’. The rhythm section plays sympathetically throughout, fading in and out where appropriate, giving the tunes depth and completing the overall sound.
Blue Heaven, musically, has its roots in the jazz vocals of the 1950s but it is by no means a mere copy. Lucy Yeghiazaryan has a style of her own, her ability to bring something different to a familiar tune is there for all to hear. Her version of ‘Old Devil Called Love’ is intimate, world-weary, and beautifully phrased. ‘I Wish I Knew’ is a terrific example of the vocalist and front line coming together to create the most wonderful sound. The final track, ‘My Blue Heaven’ is simply a joy to listen to and a fine way to bring the album to a close.
Blue Heaven is on the Cellar Live record label and can be purchased via Bandcamp.
Lucy Yeghiazaryan – vocals. Greg Ruggiero – guitar. Grant Stewart – tenor sax. Daniel Duke – bass. Steve Williams – drums.
Tracklist: 1. Sweet Pumpkin. 2. Nobody Else but Me. 3. Old Devil Called Love. 4. It’s Crazy. 5. Tenderly. 6. Thou Swell. 7. Love Isn’t Everything. 8. I Wish I Knew. 9. I Got A Feelin’ I’m Fallin’. 10. Beautiful Moons Ago. 11. My Blue Heaven.