As he walked into WXPN’s performance studio, Philly’s V. Shayne Frederick commented on the means of his arrival: by foot, carrying his keyboard on his back, ready to lay down songs for the Key Studio Sessions once the mics were live. “I’m old-school jazz like that,” he laughed.
Frederick was speaking about the efficiency and economy of his creative practice, his preference for showing up wherever, whenever, and diving right into the music. But it was also an apt description of the set he was about to play.
Frederick caught our attention during lockdown with the expansive, immersive Blacklight project; an ambitious, layered song cycle where his cascading piano mixed it up with strings and wind instruments, his emotive baritone voice at the center but very willing to share the spotlight with other voices, like rapper Kareem Idris. Back in December, he applied that palette into the swinging LP The King Suite, a reworking of Nat King Cole’s songs informed by the musical spectrum of the African diaspora.
Full-band Shayne is a grand experience, but as we saw during his lockdown livestreams (such as a Warp Factor 9 gig broadcast from West Philly’s Suzuki Piano Academy), he’s just as stunning on his own. That’s the vibe of this session, which opens on a piano performance of Cole’s “Sweet Lorraine” from The King Suite. It felt classic, timeless, and yet unfolding in the now, right before our very eyes, and as the sent went on, we saw and heard a moving rendition of other jazz songbook classics “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing,” a Billy Strayhorn tune performed over the years by Ella Fitzgerald and Vince Guaraldi, as well as “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise,” a song dating back to 1919 that’s been done over the years by Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, and more.
Watch the full performance below; for more V. Shayne Frederick, explore his Bandcamp catalog, and head to World Cafe Live this Saturday night, when he’ll support Jamison Ross in the Lounge; tickets and more information on the show can be found at WXPN’s Concerts and Events page.