Judy Wexler – Crowded Heart – Jewel City Jazz 

by | Jul 26, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Judy Wexler – Crowded Heart – Jewel City Jazz JCJ 1213 47:44 ***1/2:

Judy Wexler, in her latest release Crowded Heart,  instead of reaching back into annals of the American Songbook, has chosen to look ahead and seek  new standards, written by contemporary songwriters, that might stand the test of time in the Twenty-First Century. This is a thought-provoking construct and certainly worth exploring.

Supported by arrangements from pianist Alan Pasqua and a cohort of first rate Southern California musicians,  Judy Wexler embarks on an excursion through the compositional material that is brimming with ideas and stylish reflection. The title track “Crowded Heart” was composed by Danish songwriter Sinne Eeg with lyrics by Mads Mathias. With strong support from pianist Alan Pasqua and guitarist Larry Koonse,  in a narrative of unrequited love, Wexler shows a sleek but understated vocal style.

French accordionist  Richard Galliano in collaboration with jazz singer Kurt Elling penned the evocative”Parisian Heartbreak”. With Pasqua on melodica, Wexler gives the lyric a Parisian touch by teasing out a story  of lost love. That stellar pianist Fred Hersch in conjunction with British jazz vocalist and lyricist Norma Winstone, brought the tune “Stars” to life. With a set of unconventional lyrics that don’t fit the standard songbook, and some demanding time patterns, Wexler threads the needle with confidence.

René Marie another contributor to this release, is an American singer/songwriter whose offering is entitled “Take My Breath Away”. Done with a slight Latin beat, Wexler deals with the lyrics in a smart and respectful way.

The final track “And We Will Fly” was composed by pianist Alan Pasqua with lyrics by Kurt Elling and Phillip Galdston. It is lovely ballad that has an effervescent Latin quality that Wexler interprets with a sleek rhythmic sensibility.

Judy Wexler – vocals
Alan Pasqua – piano, melodica, whistling
Larry Koonse – guitar
Josh Johnson – alto sax
Bob Sheppard – also flute
Darek Oles – bass
Steve Hass – drums
Aaron Serfaty – percussion
Stefanie Fife – cello

Circus Life
Parisian Heartbreak
Crowded Heart
Painted On Canvas
The Last Goodbye
Take My Breath Away
I Took Your Hand
It’s Only Smoke
And We Will Fly

—Pierre Giroux




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