There is Jazz and there is Jizz, and most of the Hong Kong-based “jazz singers” are actually singing jizz- an often embarrassing concoction of self-indulgence comprising very scattered scatting, mimicry that’s cartoon-like, and material that’s so well-trodden, it’s full of career potholes. And yet, so many keep walking into them like lemmings.

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It’s why the news that Nikki Yanoksky performing at Bonnie Gokson’s SEVVA restaurant at the end of this month- September 26 and 27- is something to look forward to- a 20-year-old Canadian Jazz singer who has not veered from this musical journey, and whom I first heard when she was 14.

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As we all should know, 14-year-olds are precocious and malleable, and my greatest fear was the thought of the ubiquitous David Foster being brought in to produce this prodigious young talent.

Gawd knows why, but despite his amazing CV, David Foster is the kiss of death to young female talent who are way too easily slotted into that “Jazz” category, end up on “Oprah” with the Foster Man in tow and where the fat lady fawns over these singers.

And because Oprah fawns over them, the rabid Oprahites fawn over them- and then, they’re gone- like Tom Cruise’s marriage despite that goofy display of love gone overboard on Oprah’s couch.

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Renee Olstead, Charise from the Philippines who recently outed herself, some young female group on one of his reality shows, were all from that David Foster School Of Mush.

Each was fawned over by Miss Oprah, all had huge career opportunities handed to them, but all of which never took them anywhere.

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Remember all the hypola surrounding Charise being a regular on “Glee”? After three episodes, she was gone.

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Renee Olstead went from showing some promise as a young “jazz” singer to being a regular on one of those formulaic American sitcoms and now performing in places like Jakarta. The mind boggles.

All suffered from the David Foster Curse, and, mercifully, he never hitched his wagon to Nikki Yanofsky.

Miss Yanofsky has never strayed from paying homage to her musical heroines- Ella Fitzgerald, in particular- not as a cartoon-like copyist who scats on a song like “A Tisket A Tasket” for effect and cheap applause, but someone who truly appreciates and understands the roots of Jazz.

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This is the music which developed from the Blues, and then progressed into new directions through everyone from Thelonious Monk, Brubeck, Horace Silver, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane to the amazingly beautifully sad music of Chet Baker to the anger and brilliance of Miles Davis and his “Bitches Brew” to Chick Corea and Return To Forever, and all that awful Eighties “Jazz funk” a la Brothers Johnson and Chuck Mangione, which so many in Hong Kong still plod through.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65e3EuXfH7Q

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Nikki Yanofsky has stayed on her chosen musical journey and has not deviated to become some cabaret version of Adele or Beyoncé – a remarkable young singer with a deft understanding of her music, which comes through in her timing, her phrasing and her remarkable sense of self-belief.

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She is remarkable and all credit to Bonnie Gokson for bringing this talent to her very tasteful SEVVA restaurant.

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I’ll always remember Bonnie Gokson for the incredible event she created and staged “back in the day” where no expense was spared before a performance by Natalie Cole at a time when that singer was not exactly in a “good place” in her life.

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Bonnie rising like a sphinx in the middle of the audience to introduce herself before Ms Cole took to the stage was a tad over-the-top and a bit spooky, but, hey, it was her party and she did- and still does- anything she wants to.

The lady has balls. Big ones.

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Over the years, Bonnie Gokson has had her own radio programme, she has supported acts flying below many radars, and though some, like that singer-songwriter named Ali-something, who was extremely fortunate to end up performing at SEVVA for three months a few years ago, the lady has never ever lost her love and passion for “quality music”.

Here’s hoping that someone introduces Ms Gokson to talent like James Torme- yes, son of the legendary jazz great Mel Torme- and Malaysia’s incredible Yuna who was signed to Verve Records by- yikes- David Foster.

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Who knows? Perhaps there might, one day soon, be the SEVVA Sessions, which can live outside of the extremely popular restaurant in that fabulous location at the top of Prince’s Building in Hong Kong.

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In a city of tired looking hotel lounges with F&B executives play-acting at being A&R people, and restaurants run by many who look bored with it all and with zero marketing savvy, chutzpah and roller decks, SEVVA is everything it is with hugely untapped potential to move itself into other areas of the entertainment business.

Let’s just not bring David Foster on board.

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Hans Ebert
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc and
Fast Track Global Ltd
www.fasttrack.hk