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Rachelle Ferrell 

When: Thu., May 1, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., May 2, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., May 3, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., May 4, 7 & 9 p.m. 2008
Price: $26-$30

Rachelle Ferrell's compositions may be simple, groove-driven things with extensive vamping, but her voice is arrestingly pure. Spawned from the same lineage that birthed such great romantic contraltos as Anita Baker and Cassandra Wilson, Ferrell combines raw, close-to-the-bone intensity with intricate phrasing and subtle jazz overtones. Such qualities make her a lot more sophisticated than the average slow jammer or pop balladeer. In fact, the singer is at her best performing standards like "Autumn Leaves" or "Bye Bye Blackbird," because she renders them in a stylishly contemporary vein -- often syncopating the melody lines and stretching out the notes. Ferrell has a little something to offer the gospel lovers and jazz buffs, but could hold her own in a hip-hop crowd, as well. Fittingly, she's a hot ticket at Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland) this week, performing May 1-4. 8 & 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 7 & 9 p.m. Sunday. $26-$30

— Rachel Swan


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