Alan Pasqua, piano
Darek Oles, bass
Steve Hass, drums
Bob Mintzer, tenor sax
Bob Sheppard, soprano sax
Larry Koonse, guitar
Walt Fowler, trumpet, flugelhorn
Alex Acuna, percussion
Produced by Barbara Brighton
Arranged by Alan Pasqua
California-born and -bred Judy Wexler floats above and flits about her songs with breezy joie de vivre and with such delight in their themes that a casual listener might mistake her sunniness for superficiality. Those casual listeners would be wrong. Wexler’s warm, airy voice is deceptively but deeply engaged in her repertoire’s emotional textures, and once you hear its woodwind quality in the context of her tight jazz octet’s sublime conversations, her passion for the moment, and her determination to find a distinctive opening for herself (especially in some of this album’s more familiar tunes), become dramas unto themselves.
You don’t have to look far to hear a true jazz singer. That would be Judy Wexler and she’s someone who’s got the smarts to understand a lyrical phrase and knows how to tell a story. A chanteuse to be reckoned with, Wexler teams again with pianist/arranger extraordinaire Alan Pasqua for her third album, Under a Painted Sky.
– Nick Bewsey, Jazz In Space
Judy Wexler’s Under a Painted Sky(****) serves as a kind of soundtrack to a movie waiting to be made. Wexler dips into French with the lovely “Avec Le Temps.” She plays the tourist with a rare cover of Egberto Gismonti’s dreamy “Cafe.” Another song with a Latin feel that speaks of longing is Abbey Lincoln’s “And How I Hoped For Your Love.” Wexler’s song choices are unique, and her take with a small group sound intimate. The album closes with a rare cover of Gary McFarland’s “Sack Full Of Dreams.”
– Downbeat, John Ephland
Judy Wexler sings in a cool refreshing voice, kind of a blend of Karen Carpenter, Toni Tenille, Doris Day, and then the boss nova chanteuses. And, yow!, she couldn’t have chosen a better band for her coverage of standards, classics, and other songs: Alan Pasqua, Bob Mintzer, Walt Fowler, Alex Acuna, and four more in a great nightclub/night streets/August afternoon ambiance. Bright and bouncy, pensive, wistful, no matter the emotion or coloration, these guys have it covered, and Wexler pitches her talent to embrace each mode and mood.
– F.A.M.E. (Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange)
Wexler possesses a nearly engrained, somehow automatic feeling for delivering a lyric with total honesty. And she does this with spot-on intonation and respect for her material.
-Jazz Society of Oregon by George Fendel
Judy Wexler: Under A Painted Sky is an impressive record. It’s packed with accomplished musicians, interesting repertoire, and a woman who leads the band rather than just floating above it. The latter is hard to explain, especially to non-musicians, but there is a difference between singing and performing. Almost any fool can sing a tune, but to perform means putting one’s stamp on some material. Listen to any of the greats singing stock material in surprising and delightful ways. Check out Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” or Sonny Rollins performing “Blue Room” and compare to the source. Wexler is channeling jazz greats and performing repertoire, but she appears driven to leave her stamp on what she touches.
– Game Vortex
This recording should be in the true Jazzophiles collection — it gets no better!
Judy Wexler and her mesmerizing voice take on the tunes by some great composers on her latest recording. Another fantastic outing for Wexler.
– The Jazz Page
Listening to Judy Wexler’s Easy on the Heart is like being at a dinner party where you meet a lot of people you’d like to know better. Wexler is a gracious hostess¬ — warm and relaxed — and the evening moves along smoothly, without pretensions or affectations. Some of the songs she serves up are familiar, but none are in any way overdone; others are downright surprising, but delicious nonetheless.
– Jazz Improv Magazine, New York Supplement
There’s a marvelous clarity about Judy Wexler, both in terms of her immaculate phrasing and intonation and in her ability to strip a song, any song, to its bare essence, fully capturing its spirit and soul without an ounce of pretense or affectation.
– Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes
Whatever the mood, vibrant vocalist Wexler can convey it perfectly. With an expressive, nuanced voice and a unique manner of phrasing, she adds her own magic to such tunes as “Wonderful Wonderful” and “Avec Le Temps.” Some very tasty tidbits by her musicians complement her exploration of many vivid emotions.
– Pop Culture Classics
Wexler continues to affirm she’s a right on nu jazz vocalist as she adds her own special sauce to chestnuts and continues to seek out tunes from offbeat sources that she has the instincts to make her own. Whether covering Johnny Mathis or Egberto Gismonti, Wexler is a most charming tour guide and gracious hostess. Her first call pals bring up the rear without getting in her way and a good time is really had by all. A top shelf recording throughout.
– Midwest Record
A clean and clear voice with just a slight earthy or smoky finish, Wexler hits a sweet spot in jazz vocals that not many artists are filling right now. Under a Painted Sky does the same. Instead of a handful of the same predictable covers that have essentially been beaten to death, the tunes here are some “lesser-known,” and in some cases, forgotten numbers that Wexler embraces to make her own.
– Digital Jazz News
Her sensibilities as a singer are never demanding and she expresses herself beautifully through simple turns of phrase and straightforward expression. Under a Painted Sky continues the notion with gratifying simplicity. Singing tunes arranged by Alan Pasqua, Wexler pronounces elegantly and smiles her way through a dozen songs picked and arranged from various corners of the artistic world.
Easy on the Heart is a passionate debut project with several attitudes branching out to touch listeners, at times allowing her level of tone and vocal structure to expand to many degrees. In fact, her forte as a storyteller is noticeably prevalent. Ms. Wexler also shows great command and control of her performances, a sturdy and grounded foundation in her career with this initial project.
Wexler is one of those uncommon singers with the sensitive, tender feel to clearly express the emotion of a ballad like “Don’t Wait Too Long” and the tight, impeccable technique to swing in tunes like “The Great City.” Under a Painted Sky has a perfect balance between upbeat tunes and slow ballads. On either one, Wexler displays her distinctive style compounded of an elegant, exquisite phrasing and a gorgeous voice.