"I love it when people tell me my music is relaxing," she said.
York offers a respite from a hectic world. Her latest CD, Here With You, is the vocalist’s third album and a heartfelt offering of 11 standards. Rather than the selection of songs, the album’s strength is the small group of musicians that came to York’s side.
"These are people I wanted to work with," she said. The group includes guitarists Russell Malone and Howard Alden. Warren Vache helps out on cornet and sings a duet. The band is rounded out by bassist Jon Burr and Vanderlei Pereira on drums and percussion.
York still marvels at how all the pieces aligned to bring the group together. It began when Malone, who performs on his own and has played with Diana Krall, sent York a note, expressing how much he liked her Sunday in New York album. She then went to see him perform in Chicago and asked Malone if he would consider playing on her next album. He agreed and kept his word by joining York at her next recording session.
The singer had appeared with Alden in the Bahamas, and she admired Vache’s work with Rosemary Clooney and saw him play with Annie Ross in New York.
"The whole project has been very organic," said York, who produced the new album. "It was exciting to watch, to let go and let it grow."
It has been a long four years between albums. During that time, York said she changed in two ways. She gained more musical experience, and she found herself desiring more simplicity in her life and her music. "I want things quieter and softer," she said. "I want to get to the essentials."
This is most evident on the work she does with Malone, who performs on three tracks, "For All We Know," "A Beautiful Friendship," and "Azure Te." These simple, yet elegant, performances recall the pairing of Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass.
One of the CD’s highlights is a duet with Vache on "Walkin’ My Baby Back Home." It was a spur-of-the-moment performance that grew out of a coffee break during the recording session.
York’s interest in music started early. Both her parents played music and sang. Growing up, she heard a lot of Frank Sinatra and Perry Como around the house. While her friends in high school listened to rock, York wore out a copy of June Christy’s Something Cool. It’s fitting that York is often compared to Christy, Peggy Lee, and other girl singers of the 1950s.
She left Chicago in the early 1970s to major in political science at American University in Washington, D.C. She remains interested in politics and has been following the presidential primaries. "I’ll just say that I’m ready for a change," she said of the upcoming elections.
York who spends time in Chicago, New York, and Key West has been performing jazz since the 1980s. She spent most of the 1980s and early 1990s in New York, where she was coached by Abbey Lincoln among others.
Her debut CD, Blue Gardenia, was released in 1998. That was followed in 2004 by Sunday in New York.
When she’s not working, she enjoys yoga, swimming, and cooking. She’s recently been listening to Bill Charlap’s Somewhere, a tribute to Leonard Bernstein.
York has several performances coming up, including a March 14 CD release concert at the Metropolitan Room in New York City, where Malone will be a special guest.
"I feel a lot of gratitude for the opportunity to be a singer," she said. "It’s a beautiful part of my life."
For more, visit www.libbyyork.com.