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What I See explores life-changing moments as told through a diverse array of material, including affecting movie themes, rarely heard jazz gems, and inventive interpretations of King Pleasure, Benny Carter, Rickie Lee Jones, Richie Havens, Carlos Lyra and Joyce Moreno.

Liner Notes by Andrew Gilbert

Perusing Judy Wexler’s brief but bountiful discography, it quickly becomes apparent that the Los Angeles jazz vocalist has assiduously assembled a singularly rich treasure trove of overlooked songs. Where far too many jazz singers round up the usual American Songbook suspects, Wexler displays an unerring ear for underexposed gems. But a closer listen reveals that Wexler is far more than a savvy song sleuth.

The antithesis of a flashy singer, she doesn’t scat or radically reharmonize songs. Rather, she’s an inspired interpreter of lyrics who luxuriates in lustrous melodies. Possessing a pliably warm, unsentimental sound and a persuasive sense of swing, Wexler gives every song its due, leaving you to wonder why the object of her affection hasn’t become a bona fide standard.What I See, her fourth album, is Wexler’s most confident release yet, a project that showcases her close creative ties to her longtime pianist/arranger and co-producer Jeff Colella. A consummate accompanist and improviser, he seems to find Wexler’s comfort zone with every chart, as each beautifully crafted arrangement adds depth and subtext to her already emotionally incisive vocals. She’s particularly well served by some of the Southland’s most expressive soloists, who augment her stellar working trio with bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Steve Hass.With the album’s opening track, Wexler makes it clear she’s operating in a rarified realm, smoothing out the edges of the King Pleasure’s stiff-upper-lip anthem Tomorrow Is Another Day, a melody the vocalese pioneer caged from Stan Getz’s first recording of the folk song “Dear Old Stockholm.” Is it my imagination, or does the exquisitely hollow tone of Bob Sheppard’s mahogany-dark bass clarinet suggest that contra Pleasure’s lyrics good times might not be around the corner?At her best on sensuous ballads, Wexler is perfectly at home on Joyce’s seductive plea Convince Me, which contains the irresistible couplet “love is so quixotic/an erotic treasure chest,” and Carlos Lyra’s A Certain Sadness, which she delivers with all the requisite saudade despite an effective arrangement that avoids the song’s original bossa nova setting.Wexler pulls off the neat feat of bringing to mind Blossom Dearie on Bob Haymes’ They Say It’s Spring while making the giddy song her own. Similarly, she gently evokes the classic Richie Havens recording of singer/songwriter Jerry Merrick’s Follow, turning the folky anthem into a sleek and deeply affecting jazz vehicle.When it comes to precedents, Wexler has the field to herself on her roiling mid-tempo rendition of John Williams’ unaccountably overlooked The Long Goodbye, a song put to brilliant use throughout Robert Altman’s 1973 film of the same name (a caustic updating of Raymond Chandler’s last great Philip Marlowe novel).As if to leave no doubt that she’s fully capable of inhabiting a good old standard, she closes the album with two pre-World War II chestnuts, the jaunty A Kiss To Build A Dream On, forever linked to Satchmo, and Laughing at Life, one of those songs that probably would have been forgotten if not for Billie Holiday.  It’s an apt choice for a closer, as there’s a touch of Lady Day’s magic at work in What I See, an album defined by a penetrating musical vision that consistently finds hidden jazz treasures.

Andrew Gilbert is a Berkeley, Calif. writer who contributes to the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News.

Produced by Judy Wexler & Jeff Colella
Arranged by Jeff Colella

featuring
Judy Wexler, vocals
Jeff Colella, piano
Larry Koonse, guitar & ukulele
Ron Stout, trumpet & flugelhorn
Bob Sheppard, alto flute & bass clarinet
Scott Whitfield, trombone
Chris Colangelo, bass
Steve Hass, drums
Billy Hulting, percussion

“Though Judy Wexler’s reputation as one of the West Coast’s most compelling vocalists was cemented some time ago, What I See, her fourth release, suggests a heightened maturity, an even greater sense of assured imagination. Much like Abbey Lincoln—and at this point in Wexler’s musical progress, the comparison is quite valid—her skills as an actress are skillfully exercised, adding vivid shadings to her interpretations.”
– Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes

“Judy Wexler is more than a mere singer of songs. She’s an actress, mood painter, song archaeologist, and vocalist par excellence. What I See is a marvel of sincerity and beauty.”
– Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz

“A hard-driving kind of seduction… Wexler can’t help become a hipster darling with this outing.”
– Chris Spector, Midwest Record

“One of the best jazz albums of the year!”
– Robert Nicosia, Music Man Blog

“Surely the ocean and the light and the lifestyle somehow combine to suffuse West Coast jazz with a very particular magic. What I See is a superb example of the continuing legacy of this brand of jazz, a tradition started by pioneers such as Christy and Rugolo and carried on by Wexler, Colella, and this fine gathering of musicians.
– Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz

“What I See is one of the finer examples of what connecting to a song is all about… awesome!”
– Brent Black, Critical Jazz

“If you’re up for an adventurous program exploring what may be new territory, this is an album you are going to want to hear.”
– Jack Goodstein, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“What I See from Judy Wexler yields surprisingly terrific finds, primarily from material that has been available but overlooked. A very fine vocal talent also surfaces. With a plethora of female vocalists umbilically tied to the Songbook and the Ipanema Beach’s sandy sounds, Wexler – by way of taking a road less traveled – delivers a refreshing, satisfying musical excavation.”
– Nick Mondello, All About Jazz

“What I See continues and elevates Wexler’s reputation as a most effective interpreter of the stories and lyrics of a wide range of songwriters, culling mostly less familiar material from diverse sources, and turning each tune into a new jazz standard.”
– Andrea Canter, Jazz Police

“Fresh and delicious!”
– Peter LaBarbara, The Jazz Zine

“In terms of originality via interpretation, this singer is a deconstructionist who tears down the elements to find what others have missed, then puts it all together again, but always with a bright positive spin even when wistful. There’s always an element of dream here. The blissful equanimity with which Wexler addresses the philosophy and music is exquisite, so much so that there’s nothing to add or subtract.”
– Mark S. Tucker, F.A.M.E. (Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange)