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Pianist and singer-songwriter V. Shayne Frederick has a sound rooted in jazz, soul, and classic balladry, and his latest song finds him stretching his expansive influences farther than ever. Released just ahead of the holidays, “Return to Paradise” is a slow burner that builds and blooms, layering mellifluous vocal harmonies and lushly-arranged horns over a swift and radiant groove that has a cosmic edge to it.

Philly vocalist V Shayne Frederick brings a soulful Leon Thomas-Andy Bey quality to a decidedly jazzy interpretation of “Guide My Feet,” an African American spiritual from the Reconstruction era, and also to the mellow hymn “Go Now In Peace.” 

All the aesthetic signposts are there, from V. Shayne Frederick’s charismatically proselytizing vocals to the electric muddiness of Will Brock’s Fender Rhodes piano. And the Satch-like wah-wah issuing from Giess’ muted trumpet and the languid, metallic clanging of Jeff Scull’s distortion-heavy guitar lord over the sound like a canopy of Spanish moss.

The journey that brought V. Shayne Frederick to Philadelphia is the same one traveled by many jazz greats before him. Frederick’s paternal family had moved from North Carolina to Philly before he was born, following the path that had already brought such icons as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and the Heath Brothers to the city during the Great Migration.

Even though the project dips its toes into Latin grooves, hip-hop, and experimental jazz, Frederick’s vocals are constantly (and rightfully) at the forefront. His stunning baritone effortlessly soars; sometimes a seductive whisper, sometimes an exuberant belt.

To watch V. Shayne Frederick perform feels like observing one of the old, early-twentieth-century masters’ energies and vocal stylings transposed into a contemporary form. His rich timbral tone vibrates your sternum when it hits the right notes (it never fails to), stretching across his wide register and rich palette. His repertoire is vast but curated, reaching deep into the jazz songbook for forgotten songs that he makes feel like standards. He’s an artist’s artist, in part because it seems almost effortless—like he’s never been anything but.

The shining light among the singers was Frederick, a young man who has been making waves in the Philadelphia area recently. He has a remarkable range from the bass register all the way up to countertenor. His interpretations are carefully crafted around the meaning of the words and the structure of the melody. Frederick is definitely “one to watch.”

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