Brenda Boykin
Chocolate and Chili
(Chin Chin Records)

It never ceases to amaze me how many US artistes of pedigree decide to set up home in Europe as part of their musical journey. Hailing from Oakland, California and now residing in Wuppertal, Germany the winner of the 2005 Montreaux Jazz Festival's Best vocalist award, releases her stunning new album on the innovative Chin Chin label. If you have yet to catch some of her previous work with the Nu Jazz/ lounge project that is Club Des Belugas then you are in for a real treat.

Her rich voice full of musical mastery mixes soul with jazz, bossa nova and swing that is a pleasure to behold and a class above the normal offerings. Make no mistake this is an album that sets itself apart both in its creativity and musicianship. From the opening track 'Be my Lover' Ms Boykin lets you know the calibre of what is to come with the Donald Byrd influenced delightfully moodily sung laid back two-stepper. Then comes the first of many rhythmic explosions courtesy of spoken sassiness and impeccable scatting from Ms BB with the able support of Bebo Best and the Bahama Soul Club. If you remember the massive club hit 'Hip Hip, Chin Chin' then that will give you an idea of what is on offer here. Basically, a good time for dancers and a happy feeling for everyone! Check 'Ride Rich Rhythm' , 'Love is in town' and 'Listen to the Beat' for the feel good factor.

Frankly, this album is full of gems that make if difficult to pick out any that deserve a special mention as being favourites above the others, though the beat led 'Hard Swing Travellin' Man' comes close. Overall, the album displays the talents of a complete vocalist who has mastered many styles and is at the cutting edge of 21st century soul. A real delight and one of my favourites of the year to date. Just Buy it!!