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Judy Wexler: What I See

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Though Judy Wexler’s reputation as one of the West Coast’s most compelling vocalists was cemented some time ago, What I See, her fourth release, suggests a heightened maturity, an even greater sense of assured imagination. Much like Abbey Lincoln-and at this point in Wexler’s musical progress, the comparison is quite valid-her skills as an actress are skillfully exercised, adding vivid shadings to her interpretations. Consider, for example, her opener, King Pleasure’s “Tomorrow Is Another Day,” its optimistic promise underscored by a cautionary hint of trepidation.

Wexler’s passion for unearthing lost treasures rivals Michael Feinstein’s. Among her plunder: an inky rendering of Johnny Mercer and John Williams’ furtive “The Long Goodbye”; a tender unfolding of André and Dory Previn’s “Just for Now”; a gently uplifting treatment of Jerry Merrick’s “Follow”; and a slow, hazy meander through Benny Carter’s ethereal “Another Time, Another Place.” Shifting to more familiar fare, Wexler adds a cunning reading of “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” a free, sunny “Laughing at Life” and a clear-eyed untangling of Carlos Lyra’s “A Certain Sadness.”

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