Los Angeles vocalist Judy Wexler, whose third CD Under a Painted Sky was released last year to glowing notices, will be making a rare East Coast foray in May. Her Boston debut will take place on Wednesday 5/9 at Scullers, and she's scheduled a return visit to New York City, where she's performed on several previous occasions, for a performance at Birdland on Thursday 5/10 (6pm set).
Appearing with her at both shows will be pianist Jeff Colella, a stellar L.A. player who was Lou Rawls's longtime musical director and who has been Wexler's regular accompanist on gigs since 2006; bassist Bill Moring, one of the most in-demand bass players in New York and a solid member of Wexler's East Coast band; and Steve Hass, the drummer for Manhattan Transfer who's recorded with Wexler on her last two CDs.
It's a thrill to visit Boston for the first time and have the opportunity to play its premier jazz club," says Wexler. I always love playing in New York, and I'm really looking forward to my Birdland debut. The band absolutely kills it, so I know we're all in for a great time."
Since releasing her first CD (Easy on the Heart) in 2005, Judy Wexler has quickly established herself as one of jazz's most incisive and engaging vocalists. Working with a first-rate cast of L.A. improvisers, including pianist/arranger Alan Pasqua, Wexler has impressed with her lustrous voice, impeccable technique, and persuasive sense of swing. Her second disc, 2008's Dreams & Shadows, garnered an NPR profile by Susan Stamberg, who stated, Based on the evidence of [this CD], Judy Wexler can sing almost anything."
There's a marvelous clarity about Judy Wexler," wrote Christopher Loudon in his JazzTimes review of the singer's 2011 Jazzed Media release, Under a Painted Sky, both in terms of her immaculate phrasing and intonation and in her ability to strip a song, any song, to its bare essence, fully capturing its spirit and soul without an ounce of pretense or affectation."
The CD, which also scored a four-star review in Down Beat, serves in many ways as a road map for Wexler's fascinating influences, revealing impeccable taste at every turn. I'm so interested in finding new songs to share with people that aren't the same 50 standards that everybody hears all the time," she says. The repertoire she explores on Under a Painted Sky includes tributes to Shirley Horn and Abbey Lincoln as well as finely chosen gems by Carmen McRae, Egberto Gismonti, Benny Golson, Gary McFarland, and Deodato, among others.
Judy Wexler and her trio perform at Scullers, 400 Solders Field Road, Boston, on Wednesday 5/9 (8:00 pm); and at Birdland, 315 W. 44th Street, New York, on Thursday 5/10 (6:00 pm).