On Her 5th CD, 'Crowded Heart,' Vocalist Judy Wexler Presents New Jazz Standards For The 21st Century


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What a joy to listen to this album, both for the exquisite music-making of Judy Wexler and Alan Pasqua, but also for their astuteness in finding and featuring outstanding songs by current-day jazz composers. Highly recommended! —Ted Gioia, author of The History of Jazz and The Jazz Standards
On Crowded Heart, vocalist Judy Wexler presents an anthology of ten jazz compositions by current songwriters that she feels deserve a place in the “new jazz standards repertoire.” Arranged by piano great Alan Pasqua and featuring a band that comprises some of the finest, first-call musicians in Southern California, these tunes are the perfect vehicle for Wexler’s warm, soulful voice and highly personal interpretations.

This is Wexler’s fifth CD since her 2005 release of Easy on the Heart. Each of her CDs, which also include Dreams & Shadows (2008), Under a Painted Sky (2011), and What I See (2013), have all topped the national JazzWeek radio charts and received stellar reviews, including a profile on NPR Weekend Edition and 4-Star reviews in DownBeat.

Wexler is a mainstay on the California jazz scene. A Los Angeles native and current resident, she performs regularly up and down the state, from San Diego to San Francisco to Mendocino. She also sings in venues across the country, such as Birdland and The Blue Note in New York City, and Scullers in Boston, among many others. She’s also headlined at overseas jazz festivals including Tel Aviv, Dubai and Montreal.

Wexler brought to the session some old friends and a couple of new ones. Guitarist Larry Koonse is ubiquitous on the SoCal jazz scene and has appeared on Wexler’s last two recordings. Multi-reed player Bob Sheppard has appeared on all of Wexler’s CDs and is featured playing alto flute on “The Last Goodbye.” Darek Oles is one of the finest bass players in the country. He played on three of Wexler’s past CDs. Steve Hass is a drum master who can play in any style. This is his fourth time recording with Wexler. And Stefanie Fife, who also recorded with Wexler on her “"Dreams & Shadows," adds gorgeous cello lines to the final track, “And We Will Fly.”

Wexler’s new friends include Josh Johnson, who is an exciting young alto saxophonist who has performed with top names like Esperanza Spalding, Billy Childs, and Wayne Shorter, among others. He can be heard on “Painted on Canvas” and “I Took Your Hand.” Aaron Serfaty hails from Venezuela where he was one of the top percussionists. After coming to this country, he began touring and recording with artists such as Arturo Sandoval and Dori Caymmi.

For Crowded Heart, Wexler set out to find timeless modern jazz compositions written by contemporary jazz artists and songwriters, including Gregory Porter, Fred Hersch, Rene Marie, Kurt Elling, Alan Broadbent, Alan Pasqua, Enrico Pieranunzi and Lorraine Feather, among others.

When Wexler first conceived of this project, she reached out to jazz historian Ted Gioia, author of The Jazz Standards, for advice. He told her that jazz stays alive and becomes more than a history lesson or museum piece when a modern composition is embraced and recorded by many vocalists. Wexler is doing her part to keep the music fresh and interesting by presenting on “Crowded Heart" songs that she feels will withstand the test of time.

Crowded Heart will be available May 31, 2019 in stores and online everywhere.

This story appears courtesy of Mouthpiece Music.
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