2

Judy Wexler: What I See

Florence Wetzel By

Sign in to view read count
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 Wexler and arranger Jeff Colella, a bond that comprises the heart of Wexler's excellent fourth album, What I See. Colella, who spent almost two decades as musical director for the great Lou Rawls, provides arrangements and piano and also co-produced the album with Wexler. The rest of the band consists of Wexler's working trio of Chris Colangelo on bass and Steve Hass on drums, supplemented by a host of fine West Coast musicians who add an enchanting array of colors throughout the eleven songs.

Gems include the album opener "Tomorrow Is Another Day," a swinging tune full of passion and charm. Wexler's voice is consistently pleasing, warmly fluid with lovely turnings and rich pockets. The band offers up a delectable, effervescent swing, including a sparkling piano solo by Colella and a sultry bass clarinet solo from Bob Sheppard. "They Say It's Spring" is a buoyant song with more of the group's deliciously tasteful swing. Wexler's phrasing is wonderfully clear and conversational; listening to her sing is often like talking with a wise friend. The tune also has a delightful guitar solo by Larry Koonse, full of chiming joy and clarity. And it's great to hear the Louis Armstrong classic "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," which Wexler infuses with lively spirit. Here Colella's piano invokes an old-timey energy, and Ron Stout provides, appropriately, a graceful brass solo.

"A Certain Sadness" is a poignant song about a couple gently unraveling at the seams. Wexler does a beautiful job conveying the lyric's tender wistfulness, again displaying marvelously direct, conversational phrasing. Sheppard offers a lovely alto flute solo, with the instrument's lilting melancholy echoing the tune's emotional hue. "The Long Goodbye" is a song about missed connections and regret, with Wexler conveying an intimate knowledge of life's ironies without being world-weary or cynical. Scott Whitfield's trombone mirrors these feelings perfectly, offering yet another example of Colella's unerring instinct for using just the right instrumentation to support the mood of the lyrics.

Surely the ocean and the light and the lifestyle somehow combine to suffuse West Coast jazz with a very particular magic. What I Said 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.

Track Listing: Tomorrow Is Another Day; The Moon Is Made Of Gold; Convince Me; They Say It's Spring; A Certain Sadness; The Long Goodbye; Just For Now; Follow; Another Time, Another Place; A Kiss To Build A Dream On; Laughing At Life.

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

Title: What I See | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Jazzed Media


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Wake Up Call" CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Green With Envy" CD/LP/Track Review Green With Envy
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Double Down" CD/LP/Track Review Double Down
by James Nadal
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966)" CD/LP/Track Review Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966)
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 14, 2017
Read "Another Time: The Hilversum Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "IIII+IIII" CD/LP/Track Review IIII+IIII
by James Nadal
Published: April 17, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.