One of the deepest relationships in jazz blossomed on the West Coast in the 1950s, when singer June Christy and arranger Pete Rugolo combined their gifts on numerous albums. Christy supplied the voice and the heart, which Rugolo set off to perfection with exquisite, often surprising arrangements. The deep understanding between the two artists was particularly evident in their choice of songs; both had an eye for the unusual and the neglected, as well as lyrics that conveyed emotions of a more complex hue. This legendary synergy is mirrored in the modern-day relationship between West Coast singer Judy ...read more
As its title indicates, this album was released to mark the occasion of drummer Tony Oxley's seventy-fifth birthday (which occurred on June 15 2013.) Fittingly, it is released on Incus, the ground-breaking label that Oxley established in 1970 with Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, frequently cited as the first independent musician-run record label in Britain" (just about true because of the inclusion of independent"--which rules out The Beatles' Apple label--and of in Britain," which rules out Debut set up by Max Roach and Charles Mingus in the early fifties.) The music here all originates from unreleased live sessions. ...read more
Vocalist Judy Wexler has already garnered much attention among the All About Jazz family of critics, having been covered by the likes of colleagues Dan Bilawsky and Nicholas F. Mondello. They both remark on the breadth of Wexler's repertoire, which is impressive. Rather than browbeating us with one more collection of songs inhabiting Scott Yanow's moratorium list from his 2008 compendium, The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide (Backbeat Books), Wexler seeks out less heard songs to nudge to the forefront for attention. Wexler's support is top drawer. Longtime collaborator, pianist Jeff Colella arranges the eleven pieces, giving ...read more
When they excavated the world-famous La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, scientists discovered an other-worldly array of fossilized treasures. Who would have thought that, millennia ago, in the middle of Tinseltown, saber-toothed tigers and mammoths were sashaying down Rodeo Drive? In an analogous way, What I See from Judy Wexler yields surprisingly terrific finds, primarily from material that has been available right in front but overlooked. A very fine vocal talent also surfaces.With this, her fourth CD, Wexler grabs a handful of these pieces and performs them--with the help of some of L.A.'s finest First-Callers-- with esprit, ...read more
Vocalist Judy Wexler is more than a mere singer of songs. She's an actress, mood painter, song archaeologist and vocalist par excellence, and those designations shouldn't be taken as independent virtues; they all merge in her marvelous musical pursuits. When I See is Wexler's fourth album, but it only took two--Easy On The Heart (Jazzopolis, 2005) and Dreams & Shadows (Jazzed Media, 2008)-- to establish her as one of the most highly respected vocal artists on the West Coast. She furthered her sterling reputation with the all-encompassing Under A Painted Sky (Jazzed Media, 2011), and she's likely ...read more
Guitar duos may not be quite as rare as hen's teeth in the world of jazz, but they're far from common. Yes, there are classic pairings such as Bucky Pizzarelli and George Barnes, or John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner; but given the instrument's ubiquity it's perhaps surprising that there aren't more such partnerships around. On Travels To The West, a live album recorded during a short UK tour in late 2011, Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier demonstrate the qualities that make the guitar duo such a rewarding combination, while their use of numerous different guitars ensures a constant variation in ...read more
Saxophonist David Bixler's ties to pianist Arturo O'Farrill have had positive and negative consequences. The positives are a raised profile, a fairly steady gig for twelve years and counting, and the opportunity to paint atop brilliantly arranged Latin platforms of varying shapes, colors and sizes for audiences around the world. So, one might wonder, what could possibly be negative about this connection, and the answer comes with one simple word: pigeonholing. This saxophonist isn't bound to a single style, but O'Farrill fans may not know it or care. Bixler is a musician with a broad background that ...read more
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