Jazz Journal UK reviews Alexis Cole, Sky Blossom

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Alexis Cole

JAZZ JOURNAL UK

Alexis Cole: Sky Blossom – Songs From My Tour Of Duty

Broadly educated former US army singer brings her strong, confident voice to a big band with good space for soloists including Bob Sheppard

A widely experienced and very good singer, Alexis Cole has studied, taught and performed in the USA, Europe, India, Japan and Central America. After graduation from Queens College, New York, she taught in Manhattan and also, under the auspices of Berklee College of Music, in Ecuador.

In the US Army between 2009 and 2015, Cole was vocalist with the West Point big band. Subsequently, she taught at SUNY Purchase, NY, and since late 2021 at William Paterson University, NJ, and Western Connecticut State University. She is also founder and driving force of JazzVoice.com, and is deeply involved with Vocal Jazz Summit.

Historically, almost all of the major singers in jazz started out with and learned from big bands and for many older fans this remains the standard by which the form is judged. Nowadays, it is unfortunately rare to hear jazz singers in this setting, which is an immediate plus for this set. Throughout, Cole consistently displays how comfortable she is with the backing of a big band. Importantly, the instrumentalists and arrangers are similarly attuned to the collaboration.

Yet another plus is the fact that, founded in the past though it might be, this music is not in the least dated. Cole’s voice is strong, she uses it with flair and confidence and is melodically and rhythmically secure. Additionally, she interprets lyrics with understanding and respect.

Most of the tracks are around five minutes and this allows space for instrumental soloists, among whom are Derrick James (All Blues, New York State Of Mind), John Castleman (Joy Spring), Jeff Jarvis (Estate, Triste), Scott Arcangel (How I Wish), Nathan King (Or Love Is Here To Stay), Bob Sheppard (Pure Imagination, Social Call). Very warmly recommended.

Discography
(1) Joy Spring; (2) Pure Imagination; How Long Has This Been Going On; All Blues; Estate; Across The Universe; Triste; (1) How I Wish; (2) Social Call; New York State Of Mind; Our Love Is Here To Stay; (3) American Anthem (68.09)

Cole (v) with, collectively: (1) John Castleman, Vito Speranza, Josh Economy, Rich Johnson (t); Dan Pierce, Ron Fleischman, Jason Miller, Teddy Arnold (tb); Mike Reifenberg, Derrick James, David Loy Song, Jay Malone, Xavier Perez (s); Scott Arcangel (p); Mark Tonelli (g); Brandon Nelson (b); Scott Drewes (d). Los Angeles, 2018-2021.
(2) Jeff Jarvis (t, cond); Ryan DeWesse, Cade Gotthardt, Evan Hamada, Andrew Solares (t); Phineas Crisp, Ken Eernisse, Anna Menotti, Bobby Burton (tb); Stephen Wood, Erik Larsen, Nathan King, Tanner Olivas, Chris Cockrill, Bob Sheppard (s); Alex Flavell (p); Pablo Muñoz-Snyder, Nick Mancini (vib); Brandon Johnson, Paul Meyers, Sébastien Nouat (g); Max Myrick, David Finck (b); Tyler Kreutel (d); Jeff Haynes (pc). Same location, dates.
(3) Jaehun Kang (p). Same location, dates.
Zoho Music ZM 202108

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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