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JACQUI NAYLOR's "Treasures of the Heart"

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    Posted: 02 Apr 2024 at 12:28am






Coming April 26, 2024 on Ruby Star Records


JACQUI NAYLOR - Treasures of the Heart cover




JACQUI NAYLOR is one of the most captivating and innovative vocalists on the scene today. Her albums are not easy to characterize because they always take you on unexpected adventures with songs flavored with jazz, R&B, soul, and pop. The prolific recording artist, singer, and composer is now releasing her 12th album, TREASURES OF THE HEART, comprising four re-imaginings of well-known jazz and pop standards and 10 original compositions penned by Naylor and her husband, pianist ART KHU, who also wrote all the arrangements.


Naylor is based in San Francisco and has headlined at esteemed venues and festivals throughout the world, including Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Vancouver Jazz Festival, London’s Ronnie Scott’s, Berlin’s Quasimodo, Lisbon’s Jazz Palacio Baldaya, New York and Hamburg’s Birdland, San Francisco’s SFJAZZ Center, Paris’ Sunset-Sunside, and the Blue Note in New York, Milan, and Tokyo.


Naylor is joined on TREASURES OF THE HEART by an extremely tight, top-notch band that has worked together for over a decade. They include Khu, who plays piano, organ, guitar, Rhodes, and celeste. In addition to his many music credits on 11 of Naylor’s albums, Khu has worked with Donald Byrd, Idina Menzel, and other notable artists. He also composed a symphony for the Oakland Symphony. Also on board is Naylor’s long-time bass player RICHIE GOODS, who toured and recorded with Mulgrew Miller for nine years and has worked with a who’s who of jazz and pop artists, including Lenny White, Milt Jackson, Russell Malone, Vincent Herring, Chris Botti, Christina Aguilera, and Whitney Houston. Naylor, who is known for her ability to interpret a diverse repertoire and bring together music from different genres and generations, enlisted two younger but very experienced players for this recording: drummer and percussionist ELÉ HOWELL, a former student of Khu’s whose credits include Ravi Coltrane and Christian Scott, and trumpet and flugelhorn player ERIK JEKABSON, whose credits include Phil Woods, Benny Golson, Brian Lynch, and Tito Puente.


During the pandemic lockdown, Naylor and Khu kept busy writing and arranging over 200 new songs and launched a livestreamed subscription concert series called Home2Home. They started the series after their seven-city international tour was canceled due to Covid. The Home2Home series aired monthly and featured 18 mostly original songs performed by the duo from their home studio, complete with remote set designer, emcee, and audio engineer. Once the pandemic restrictions ended, Naylor invited several of her Patreon members to be part of a live Home2Home studio audience. Because she had direct contact with her fans, online and in person, she received immediate feedback on their favorite songs and included them on this album. The Home2Home series is still going strong, with Naylor including broadcasts from recording and mixing studios and remote locations. Naylor has also used the series to invite fans into the songwriting and recording processes.


Naylor has been a practicing Buddhist for 30 years and took the album title from The Three Kinds of Treasure, a letter written in 1277 by Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk and scholar. “More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all.”


Through her original compositions and soulful interpretations of jazz and pop songs, Naylor sets out to capture the essence of Nichiren’s message by creating uplifting music about life’s most meaningful treasures. The title song, “Treasures of the Heart,” a funky, soul-jazz original penned by Naylor and Khu, summarizes the album’s theme. “I found joy when only dark clouds came to call / I felt springtime when the leaves began to fall / In the sunshine and the rain / In the joy inside the pain / Joy is a treasure of the heart.”


Naylor’s groove-based vocals and smoky sound have a subtle, intimate quality that conveys the emotional depth of a song without resorting to vocal pyrotechnics. She draws you in with gentle intensity on love songs like “All That We Could Be,” “Walk Out in the Sun,” and “Love in Springtime,” but she utilizes her powerful range on the blues and funk of “We’ll Shine Through” and “Love’s Around.” “You’re the One for Me” has a ‘60s Motown feel, while “Happy Adventure” gives a joyful nod to ‘70s disco.


Naylor and Khu wrote “Picture Book of You” for one of their fans who asked them to write a love song for his wife. He sent them a note listing qualities he loves about her, noting he thinks about her and their life together in pictures. The result is this lovely, Calypso-inflected tune with sweet lyrics like, “And though I never doubt what our love is about / I love to reminisce / Fine art in Florence, you by waters in spring / The day we exchanged our rings.” Even the darkest tune, “Hold On,” which Naylor and Khu wrote for a friend suffering from depression, has a message of hope.


Khu’s imaginative interpretations and Naylor’s distinctive renderings of the covers take well-known tunes and transform them. “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” has an Afro-Cuban feel with layered percussion, while “True Colors,” a pop anthem made famous by Cyndi Lauper, is turned into a spacious, gospel-tinged love song. Naylor is known for a technique she coined, “acoustic smashing,” where she sings the lyrics and melody of a jazz standard over the groove of a well-known rock anthem or vice versa. You can hear it at the end of “Lovely Day,” where she sings some of the lyrics and melody of “Over the Rainbow” on the outro. She sings Burt Bacharach’s “This Guy’s in Love with You” in a classic jazz trio setting, adding a pensive turn at the song’s end.


Jacqui Naylor’s distinctive voice has earned her legions of fans worldwide. She appears on all the streaming platforms, with some songs streamed over 5 million times on Spotify alone. Her albums consistently make exclusive "top-ten" lists, and her music has been featured in ad campaigns, television shows, and films, including a full-length documentary made about her. Naylor will be touring the U.S., Bahamas, Portugal, Germany, France, Belgium, Canada, and other countries to perform the music from the album. To the delight of her fans, TREASURES OF THE HEART is another showcase for Naylor’s splendid, sensitive, and surprising vocals. The music is diverse, the musicianship first-rate, and her compositions with Art Khu are well-crafted and heartfelt.


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TREASURES OF THE HEART will be released on April 26, 2024, available on all streaming platforms. The album will also be available on CD, double-vinyl LP, and in Dolby Atmos.


VIDEO (LIVE YouTube videos from Home2Home concerts. Recorded in the studio with a full band for the album): 


"I Didn’t Know What Time It Was" (duo live version)



"Hold On" (trio live version for Tiny Desk)






@jqnaylor (Instagram)

@jacquinaylor (X)




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