Now Playing: Michelly Cordova & Yukako Yamano’s ‘7 Years Of Luck!’ 

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Cordova
Image courtesy of Michelly Cordova & Yukako Yamano



The jazz duo Michelly Cordova & Yukako Yamano have a new album out now. It’s titled 7 Years Of Luck! But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the artists in question, a bit o’ background.

Michelly Cordova & Yukako Yamano

Cordova
Image courtesy of Michelly Cordova & Yukako Yamano/original owner

According to online sources, Los Angeles, California-based blues and jazz singer, songwriter, and arranger Michelly Cordova met Tokyo, Japan’s popular jazz pianist, composer, and arranger Yukako one evening seven years ago at an L.A. “dive bar.” Cordova was amazed at Yamano’s forceful playing. In fact, Yamano reportedly was so forceful “she wrecked the digital piano” in what was “the perfect end to a great performance.” They have performed together ever since touring the US.  

Between the two of them, they have appeared all over the globe. During the pandemic, they were unable to work together in person. Thus, Yamano performed in the Middle East and Africa while Cordova worked on new material.  

Earlier this year, she put out a funk-tinged new single titled “I’m in Love”.

Yamano put out a new EP titled Dubai Suite. It’s a compilation of piano compositions inspired by her time in Dubai. Most recently, the pair of performers reunited for a special show.

Signature Sound

Michelly Cordova & Yukako Yamano’s signature sound is a musical mix of multiple genres including blues, jazz, Latin, and pop.  

7 Years Of Luck!

7 Years Of Luck! is an 11-track album of both cover cuts and original material. It features Cordova on vocals and Yamano on piano. They are unaided by other artists.   

Track by Track

The album opens on “Lullaby of Birdland.” It’s a new arrangement of an old jazz standard. They make the once-popular piece by George Shearing and George David Weiss memorable again by adding their own personal musical perspective to it.      

The second selection is a clever cover of the song “Feeling Good.” It was co-written by UK composers Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Most famously covered by American singer Nina Simone, Cordova and Yamano make it clear they have made it their own.    

The next number, “Easy Living”, and, yes, the tuneful twosome make it sound easy to perform this jazz standard by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin. Most famously recorded by Billie Holiday, Cordova and Yamano also make it obvious they like performing the piece as well.

“Get Out of Town” follows here. This cover of a 1938 Cole Porter piece is both moody and smoky. It works well here.

“Don’t Explain” needs no explanation. This one, co-written by jazz singer Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. fits in quite well with their live show. Additionally, anyone who performs talented tributes to Holiday certainly has to include Holiday’s final song. 

The sixth selection is “Willow Weep for Me.” It’s a nice, unexpected inclusion here. It was written by Ann Ronell in 1932. The song’s unique composition undoubtedly makes it an interesting number to perform live and works well with Cordova’s oft’time ethereal vocals.

The seventh songful serving is “So in Love.” This Cole Porter composition from Kiss Me, Kate is a great choice for classy little jazz venues. Patti Page may have done it in 1949, but this performing pair is bringing it back to the present.   

Cordova and Yamano return to the Holiday hits with “Swing Brother Swing.” Their version of this song co-composed by Walter Bishop, Lewis Raymond, and Clarence Williams is yet another number where the performing pair remains true to the roots of the song and the genre itself.

The talented twosome remains wonderfully consistent on “But Beautiful.” Their dedicated adaptation of this song by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke is, like much of the material here, simple yet heartfelt in presentation.  

Also included here is an effective cover of Kansas Joe McCoy’s “Why Don’t You Do Right.” The playful pair’s performance remains strong and dedicated. Their disc provides both a sense of old-school atmosphere and attitude and never goes askew.

The closing cut is the original offering “Never Far Away.” It’s a refreshing, fitting, and unexpected addition to the album and leaves one wondering what else the duo can do. In a letter, Cordova briefly discussed the song’s origins. She said: “[It’s] a new song that we wrote on tour…We had an amazing adventure…”  

Overall… 

Overall, this appropriately named disc is largely the result of seven years of their performing partnership, a common love of jazz standards, and their recent tour. Their music is happily sincere, wonderfully honest, tunefully traditional, and surprisingly exceptional considering they rely on nothing more than Cordova’s vivacious vocals and Yamano’s playful piano work. They lovingly combine traditional blues and jazz music with their own more modern touches and understated elegance. So, check out Michelly Cordova & Yukako Yamano’s 7 Years Of Luck! and you’ll be “Feeling Good.”