A debut album this good? Put one of the warmest voices on the planet with Alan Pasqua on the piano and Darek Oles on bass… and the rest is what you would imagine. The voice belongs to Judy Wexler and the release is “Easy on the Heart” … in the spotlight this week on RadioioJAZZ! The voice and character of the vocal reveals a depth of expressions. At times what you hear is warm and inviting… she can shift to gutsy and ‘blues born’. And then there is the confident delivery on “Nobody Else But Me”… even further, there is another scope of expression on pop tunes such as the Beatles’ “In My Life” or Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” This album is successful because the talent is real.
Jazz vocalist Judy Wexler sings an exceptional set on her latest release Easy on the Heart. Her interplay with her quintet showcases her deep sense of swing and rich harmonic skills in such a great way as to beautifully enhance her abilities as an entertainer. Wexler has a warm sound, excellent note-for-note phrasing, a winning sense of dynamics and a distinctive style of improvisation that helps to transcend the songs on the recording to another level of appreciation. Overall, Judy Wexler does a great job of exposing her inventive singing and ability to drive the band to both new and current fans.
Judy Wexler has all the necessary ingredients a jazz singer requires and she uses them all in the hallmark of this recording, “Nobody Else But Me.” With a rapid fire delivery, Wexler puts this tune in the cosmos, right up there where Hammerstein/Kern reside, and I am sure they are more than pleased…Judy Wexler has a voice made for jazz.
…she successfully brings her interpretive powers to everything from Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” the Beatles’ “In My Life” and Henry Mancini’s “Moment to Moment” to Abbey Lincoln’s “I’m in Love.” Of course, having an interesting, far-reaching repertoire wouldn’t mean much if Wexler couldn’t sing—and thankfully, she has a big, appealing voice and a healthy sense of swing to go with her broad-minded song selection. Hard-swinging but with a definite romantic streak, Wexler is someone admirers of Abbey Lincoln or Dianne Reeves should have no problem getting into—and she’s someone who shows a lot of promise on her memorable debut album.
Wexler doesn’t play the debut-disc game of most jazz vocalists by packing the playlist with ringers. Instead, this subtly powerful Glendale singer offers a satisfyingly challenging program of lesser-known gems… Wexler also proves she can handle bebop (Meredith D’Ambrosio’s “Gorgeous Creature”) and deliver the blues (with an Oscar Brown Jr. cover, no less). The one constant: a spot-on, expressive voice.
With her debut CD, Judy Wexler finally unlocks the secret that she’s been keeping hidden while performing for local audiences at venues around town. Her warm, expressive vocal interpretations give the session plenty to love. Wexler forges ahead into straight-ahead territory with her own personal stamp on each arrangement. The result is a lively session that’s filled with the spirit of the blues and the swinging rhythms of jazz. But it’s the singer’s vocal clarity, driving passion, and down to earth interpretations that make her debut a sure winner. Wexler convinces with a natural aura and a musically superior ambience.
After a phone interview with the fabulous new Los Angeles vocalist Judy Wexler, she sent me an e-mail of her five favorite jazz-vocal albums. Wexler had no idea I was going to print her list, but I thought it would give you a good idea just how hip she is: “Bittersweet,” Carmen McRae; Better Than Anything, Irene Kral (with the Junior Mance Trio); Annie Ross Sings a Song with Mulligan; Social Call, Betty Carter; (Tossup) Wholly Earth or You Gotta Pay the Band, Abbey Lincoln. Wexler’s “desert island discs” were no huge surprise, given her cool repertoire and dazzling technique on Easy on the Heart, her debut CD.
This is one special jazz vocal debut album from Los Angeles area-based Judy Wexler. This album stands miles ahead in the proliferating femme jazz vocal field. I can only hope that it will find its way to the in-baskets of the various jazz radio programmers, and fast!
Easy on the Heart has one memorable performance after another. Wexler interprets the diverse material with sensitivity and understated swing, sticking to the lyrics and putting plenty of feeling into the words. Her handling of the difficult lyrics of Meredith D’Ambrosio’s “Gorgeous Creature” (which uses the chords of “Beautiful Love”) is impressive, as is her ability to stretch herself to include the Beatles’ “In My Life” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.
Her assertive, no-frills delivery is a dominant and pleasant feature in her singing, as it focuses our attention on the clear and lucid storytelling. The extras in her style are subtle, delicate, well-timed, purposeful and a testament to her good taste…she clearly knows what liberties to take, what lines to stretch and, more importantly, how to enchant us fully.