Easy on the Heart
If Judy Wexler had written the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, it would have read, “Give me your obscure, your neglected love songs….” She scores heavily by collecting rarities from Kern, Berlin, Mancini, Lennon and McCartney, Abbey Lincoln, Bob Dylan and, for the title tune, Charlie Haden. This debut album is simply sensational.
Wexler emerges as one of the most focused, unpretentious, no-nonsense, bop-oriented jazz singers around. She boasts range, firm intonation and the kind of enunciation that makes her the darling of lyricists.
The highlight is Victor Young’s “Beautiful Love,” not in its present incarnation, but morphed into the hipper “Gorgeous Creature,” Meredith D’Ambrosia’s witty “paraphrase” of Young’s flowing melody. The track is climaxed by Wexler’s sweeping 13-to-11 cadence with all the confidence and precision of an instrumentalist. The polar extreme is realized when Wexler descends to a breathy, sensuous low F to end the next track, “Tell Him I Said Hello.” That last word will haunt you.