The Napa Valley Jazz Society Parlor Jazz Series presents Judy Wexler with her trio at Silo's, 530 Main Street, Napa, Sunday, 4 p.m. $20-$40 www.nvjs.org, (707) 224-5299 (JAZZ)
Before Judy Wexler found her voice as a jazz singer, the Los Angeles native was a Hollywood character actress.
“I really enjoyed it,” Wexler said, even though her 4’10” stature limited her to character roles on TV shows like “Frasier.”
Stage roles and musicals were her favorites, Wexler says: “I like the live experience and connecting with audiences.”
And connecting with audiences is what she does as a jazz singer, performing songs by composers as diverse as Bob Dylan and Bob Dorough, Blossom Dearie and Abbey Lincoln.
Like the '60s singing sensations Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Wexler is partial to vocalese —jazz instrumentals retrofitted with lyrics, such as Sonny Rollins’s “Pent-Up House,” with words about a “crazed housewife,” and Lincoln’s lyrics for Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring.”
She also loves to sing the Richie Havens song “Follow,” written by Jerry Merrick, Wexler said.
Her live performances, and a handful of CD releases, have made Wexler something of a critical darling.
NPR’s Susan Stamberg says "Based on the evidence… Judy Wexler can sing almost anything."
Wexler is “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,” according to JazzTimes.
And according to the Washington Post, "Judy Wexler not only knows her way around a bop tune, fluidly negotiating angular intervals and racing tempos, she knows how to personalize a pop tune, no matter how familiar or faded."
Wexler plays Silo’s in Napa Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. as part of the monthly Parlor Jazz series presented by the Napa Valley Jazz Society.
Admission to the Sunday-afternoon concerts is $20 for Napa Valley Jazz Society members, $40 for the general public with no minimum at the bar. Order tickets and find more information at www.nvjs.org or call (707) 224-5299 (JAZZ).
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