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.
In And How I Hoped for Your Love, she switches up from the naturalistic lilt of the opening Wonderful Wonderful, elongating her notes into slinky elastic breeze-blown confections. Blue Note would have been proud to have presented this spotlessly engineered and artfully arranged dozen cuts. Pasqua tackles that last task and produced the rhythm tracks as well, besides playing an enchanting piano. The clarity and crystallinity of it all is gratifying in the extreme, and the heart skips a beat to be enveloped in such yesteryear virtues so masterfully painted. Then there's the lighthearted, carefree, summer's sensuality of Wexler in her rendition of An Occasional Man (and boys, she goes swimming in just a smile!).
June Christy of course comes to mind, and one is mindful of just how infrequently this modality is presented, especially with so many trying to be the next Janis Joplin or Etta James. That's all well and good, sure, but a few more Janis Siegals, Astrud Gilbertos, and dreamy girl-next-doors never hurt either. Wexler covers a zone not precisely hit by much of anyone any more, a sphere you didn't know you missed until you hear her. Surprisingly, she is, as Jazz Times has noted, bop oriented, shown clearly in Great City, but the suppleness of her delivery softens all the hard edges, substituting velvety smoothness and deceptively crafted sonority for what would normally be staccato inflections. Listen to her riffs in Avec le Temps, however, and you'll see the wont hiding in many places. Then she trots out a Mark-Almond-ish Cafe dripping with the sophisticated reaches of upper New York (catch that Fowler flugelhorn!—Chuck Mangione and Johnny Almond himself would've had a tough time matching the piquancy; the latter on sax of course). So do yourself a favor and find out how many O's can fit into 'smooooooooth' in this perfect disc of unutterably romantic songs.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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