Jazz & Blues Magazine reviews Alexis Cole, Sky Blossom

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Alexis Cole

JAZZ & BLUES MAGAZINE

ALEXIS COLE
Sky Blossom: Songs From My Tour of Duty
ZOHO MUSIC

Alexis Cole - CD Cover
The title “Sky Blossom” of vocalist Alexis Cole is
a military term for an opening parachute and a nod to
her service in the US Army, where she served as the
big band vocalist for the West Point Band’s Jazz Knights
until 2015. It was there that she met Scott Arcangel,
the musical director of the Jazz Knights. Arcangel
arranged many of the pieces for the band, including
several that featured Cole. While with the Jazz Knights,
she recorded some of these vocal songs on her 2010
album, “Turning Points.” However, she wanted to record
more of that repertoire.

After she left the Army in 2015, she met a
bandleader and musical collaborator in Jeff Jarvis,
with whom this recording was shaped. There is considerable
musical range from vocalese renditions of
bebop classics, American standards, and songs from
the Gershwins, Lennon & McCartney, and Billy Joel
with handsome big band arrangements (most from
Scott Arcangel). Jarvis conducted 9 of the twelve
selections, Arcangel led two tracks, and one-piece is
accompanied solely by piano.

Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring” opens this album with
Cole immediately capturing the listener’s attention with
her musical personality, phrasing, timing, and clarity
of her delivery that will suggest Sarah Vaughan and
similar vocalists. She can extend a phrase like a clarinet
and scat with trumpet-like bursts. Kudos should
also be extended to the marvelous arrangements and
the terrific big band who are more than simply accompanists.
There is such charm to her rendition of “Pure Imagination.”
At the same time, she captures
the melancholy of the Gershwins’ “How Long Has This
Been Going On,” along with the wistfulness of “How I
Wish,” which has Jon Hendricks’ lyrics for Thelonious
Monk’s “Ask Me Now.” The latter number also benefits
from Arcangel’s piano solo.

Additionally, there is Cole’s marvelous delivery of
Oscar Brown Jr.’s lyrics for Miles’ “All Blues,” a couple
of exquisite bossa nova standards, including Jobim’s
“Trieste” and Hendricks’ lyrics for Gigi Gryce’s “Social
Call.” There is a honey-toned quality to her vocals
exhibited throughout, along with the superb support
provided. Then there are unusual numbers such as The
Beatles “Across the Universe” and Billy Joel’s “New
York State of Mind.” Bob Sheppard has an outstanding
tenor sax solo on “Social Call,” Derrick James is
upfront soloing on “All Blues” and “New York State of
Mind.”

Alexis Cole establishes herself as a superb jazz
vocalist on this album. “Sky Blossom is a stellar release.

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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