Oct 28, 2010
Nu Shooz were a footnote in Eighties dance-pop music, hitting the charts with “I Can’t Wait” and “Point of No Return”, and garnering a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1987 (they lost to Bruce Hornsby & the Range). More than twenty years later, the husband and wife team of John Smith and Valerie Day have remade themselves as a small scale jazz orchestra, crossing genres of light classical, jazz and pop. And it works.
In the tradition of the best “Lounge” or “Chill” acts like Pink Martini and De-Phazz, the Nu Shooz Orchestra plays music that can serve as more than pleasant background music for cocktails or a late night rendezvous. The ten-piece band creates soothing sonic tapestries highlighed by the vibes of Mike Horsfall and the multiple keyboard instruments plaid by Smith.
But there of flashes of something more. Occassionally, as in the floating “Welcome to My Daydream” or the title track, they move beyond their sound to genuinely interesting vocal jazz, primarily due to Ms. Day’s soft, seductive soprano voice that recalls Astrid Gilberto in its otherworldly effects. Her soaring cover of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" is truly memorable. The orchestra shows they can swing, too, on tunes like “Skeets Beni”.
Remade and remodeled versions of their Eighties hits are included, and eclipse the orginals by eliminating the dated electropop sound. “I Can’t Wait” becomes a torchy love song, hihglighted by Ms. Days’ give and take with horn player Paul Mazzio. “The Return of Point of No Return” is sparked by a Horsfall vibes solo and a Manhattan Transfer-beautiful vocal part.