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World Music CD Reviews Australia & Oceania

Julian Yeo

By Ernest Barteldes
Published June 24, 2008

Unusual Passage

A repertoire comprised mostly of 1930s-style standards was the choice for this Australian-born vocalist’s debut, and with good reason. Like his musical hero Fred Astaire, Yeo carries a natural ease in his voice, projecting a gentle quality that fits these songs like a glove. He sounds most comfortable belting out Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy” and Irving Berlin’s obscure “I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket,” and he makes “Speak Low” (a hit for Billie Holiday) his own by using a Latin-inspired arrangement. He also does justice to “Charade,” a Henry Mancini composition written for the score of the 1962 film that starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Clarinetist Dennis Lichtman sets a happy mood on the ragtime-flavored “I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan” and “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart,” but the real highlight is Yeo’s stirring rendition of Irving Berlin’s quiet classic “What’ll I Do,” accompanied solely by pianist/arranger Jesse Gelber.