Over the last few years, big bands have been climbing to the top of the international charts again, with ease. That’s not so surprising: this long-standing style of dance music still swings like nothing else, and there are some excellent big bands
around to make the jazzy feel accessible to everyone. Harry Connick Jr. flirts with it, Hugh Laurie is getting a taste for it. Paul Anka even made a comeback with it, for example with a swing version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana. Caro
Emerald's swing jazz aimed higher than just the Low Countries, and the Canadian jazz singer Michael Bublé gave the big band format international status in the pop world.
Belgium has a noteworthy history of big bands too, with the crooner Yannick Bovy recently coming to the fore. Yannick was an only child whose grandparents fed him a musical diet of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others); his grandma singing away in the kitchen remains one of his most cherished memories. His father was a musician, always taking his eager kid along to rehearsals and gigs.
So the music virus was never far away and, despite the fact that Bovy was more interested as a young man in the pop music of Jay Z or Justin Timberlake, swing numbers like Glen Miller’s ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ just kept on tempting him.
By 2010, after various musical peregrinations, Bovy was ready and willing to tackle the Great American Songbook. The future looks rosy. Classics like ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ and a swing interpretation of ‘All My Loving’ (Beatles) were combined with his own numbers such as the successful debut single ‘She’s Even More Beautiful’ to create the debut album Better Man. The format turned out to be a winner, as the single ‘Theoretical Love’ became a radio hit in various Asian countries and he unexpectedly acquired star status in Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. The number was also released closer to home in Poland, Sweden, Greece and elsewhere; Brazil fell for Bovy’s charms too. The cherry on the cake was when Lionel Ritchie asked him to be his support act, and he has also shared posters for jazz festivals with Amy Macdonald, Lisa Stansfield and Caro Emerald.
Yannick Bovy can be heard all over the world. Women and their daughters swoon over the smart-suited figure of Bovy, who can shake the hips or jazzily radiate gentlemanly romance, and at the same time pay light-hearted homage to films like The Godfather. Mothers, keep an eye on your daughters: as the title track of his debut album says, he is that ‘better man’ who is constantly working to improve - his voice is getting more depth, his emotions more subtle, his self-criticism tougher, his writing skills more forceful.
Bovy’s success abroad just keeps on growing and the time has come for him to take the first self-assured steps into that promising future.
Yannick Bovy breathes swing and you feel that even his pulse must have a cool rhythm. He has perfected his approach, and you won’t be surprised to hear that a second album is on its way, full of jazzy goodies. Audacious covers are combined with works of his own that he has, with no small measure of justifiable pride, given plenty of time to mature. He’s going to make his mark on the world, for sure. Let the good times roll!
“Bovy is one of Belgium's greatest new musical talents! Just imagine the women, the banter, the concerts, the handmade suits, the swimming pools and private jets - well, that’s the classic ‘handsome devil’ sound of Bovy’s music.”