Sky Blossom: Songs From My Tour of Duty

Alexis Cole

Big Band CD featuring arrangements written by Scott Arcangel from my time serving in the Army's West Point Band

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Jazz Times: November 2021

This big-band bolstered set from ace vocalist Alexis Cole leans on the literal with its subtitle: Songs from My Tour of Duty. In 2009, following a lengthy peripatetic stretch that placed pins on the map in New Jersey, India, Ecuador, Japan and various points across Europe, Cole enlisted in the U.S. Army where, until 2015 she served and sang with the West Point Band’s Jazz Knights. There, she had the opportunity to shine within and above some exceptional Scott Arcangel arrangements tailored to her voice. Yet there was never a focus on formally documenting the majority of that music…until Cole returned to civilian life and made it a priority. Working with collaborator/conductor Jeff Jarvis over the course of several years, she completed the mission and packaged it in this form. 

Revisiting her days in uniform, Cole is in peak shape from the start - a dynamic vocals take on Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring” where she swings, scats, and wordlessly joins in on an intricate soli, all within the first three minutes of play. Soaring across a varicolored backdrop on “Pure Imagination,” exploring a sly-to-sensational range on “All Blues,” wrapping her voice around the quiet splendors of Bossa beauty “Estate,” and traveling gracefully to the stars on “Across the Universe,” Cole continues to make her mark(s). 

Named after a military term for an opening parachute, Sky Blossom, perfectly reflects the leap into the unknown that led this singer into service and positively shaped her art. Eleven performances (the aforementioned material, two Gershwin goodies, plus single dips into the respective songbooks of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Thelonious Monk, Gigi Gryce , and Billy Joel) highlight Cole’s poise and passion when in grand company. And the twelfth - a deeply felt “American Anthem,” with nothing but Jaehun Kang’s piano sharing space - puts her patriotic heart in full view. 

- Dan Bilawsky

 

More Reviews

Jazz Sensibilities by Jeff Becker

https://jazz2love.blogspot.com/2021/08/album-review-sky-blossom-from-alexis.html

 

The Greatest Gift- Songs of the Season

The Greatest Gift - Songs of the Season

Alexis Cole (Motéma Music)

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The Greatest Gift was conceived and performed by Alexis Cole in collaboration with her father, singer/songwriter Mark Finkin and over 50 musicians from New York City who donated their talents in support of the visionary work of World Bicycle Relief. World Bicycle Relief provides sustainable access to healthcare, education and economic development in needy countries through "The Power of Bicycles"

Personnel: Mark Finkin: vocals, piano; St. Paul's Children's Choir: vocals; St. James' Quartet: harps; Greg Frens: vocal; Don Brayden: sax; Christian Howes: violin; Warren Chasson: vibraphone; Alan Ferber: trombone; Jon Cowherd: piano; Jeff Haynes: percussion; Jessie Lewis: guitar; Ike Sturm: bass; Fred Kennedy: drums; Gottfried Stoger: sax; John Menegon: bass; Alvin Atkinson: drums; Kumar Das: tablas; Pir Shabda Khan: tambura; Zach Brock: violin; Andie Springer: violin; Beth Meyers: viola; Jody Redhage: cello; Warren Chasson: vibes; Tedd Firth: piano.

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Downbeat Magazine Review December 2009

Downbeat Magazine Review December 2009

Reviews:
Amazon Customer Review - This is serious Christmas music, from a very serious jazz musician and exquisite vocalist. It is compositionally, harmonically and melodically inventive, with a grab-bag of musical surprises in every tune, and in every selection. Incredibly well-executed by some of the finest jazz players you'll ever hear. This isn't a 'throw-away' smooth-jazz/ newage Christmas record, either. This album is musically powerful and will retain its interest throughout the year, not just at Christmas. A great Christmas present for the jazz lover and the discerning ear, but accessible for the novice jazz fan as well. A tour de force, highly recommended.
Jazz Times - Lee Mergner Holiday Roundup
World Music Report- Raul da Gama
Biblical Christianity Blog 
All Music - Ken Dryden
All About Jazz - Bridget A. Arnwine
Vocation Carol - Franciscan Sisters
Straight No Chaser Blog
Dena Dyer Blog



 

A Beautiful Friendship

Alexis Cole & Bucky Pizzarelli

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Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar Frank Vignola: guitar Nicki Parrott: bass/ vocals Anat Cohen: clarinet Warren Vaché: cornet

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Someday My Prince Will Come

Someday My Prince Will Come

Alexis Cole

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Disney Love Songs with Fred Hersch: piano Steve LaSpina: bass Matt Wilson: drums Gregoire Maret: harmonica Don Braden: tenor, soprano, flute

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Japanese Release Reviews: 
NYC Jazz Record - Ernest Barteldes 
Jazz Times - Christopher Loudon 

All Music - Michael G. Nastos:
Alexis Cole is caught deep in the dreams of her childhood on this set of standards that recall a more innocent youth and simpler times. Yet the romantic spell of grown-up fantasies is also heard during this set of ballads derived from show tunes that have references to Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and similar playful, lighthearted figures of mythical proportions. As a vocalist, Cole has few peers in terms of her enunciation, coupled with a beautiful singing voice she draws on previous icons such as Chris Connor, Irene Kral, or Carol Sloane. Pianist Fred Hersch is a perfect choice for making these songs come to life in Cole's vivid, lush, story telling imagination, with bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Matt Wilson also along for this magic carpet ride. A song like the loping ramble "Let Me Be Good to You" is more seductive, while "Love" (from Robin Hood) adds Hersch's stride piano and Don Braden's soprano sax, adding whimsy to the forlorn refrain. For the most part, these are heartfelt songs of love on the way, anticipated by Cole's supple voice during the soft swinger "If I Never Knew You" (from Pocahontas) and the waltzing title track, both featuring the haunting harmonica of Gregoire Maret. Braden's flute on "La La Lu" (from Lady & the Tramp) accents Cole's sweet charms, perfectly evocative of her cover photos, as she's draped in pearls and a pristine white dress, holding a butterfly. If you're in a similar mood, probably late at night, these songs are best when shared with a good friend, especially as time stands still but for a while.

Dazzling Blue - The Music of Paul Simon

You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To

Close Your Eyes - The Sultry Sound of Jazz

I Carry Your Heart - Music of Pepper Adams

A Kiss in the Dark