Jazzville presents jazz singer Amber Weekes with her band for an amazing night of music at the Cascade Lounge, Palm Springs.
Amber Weekes is a “straight-ahead jazz” vocalist and recording artist who has an on-going love affair with the “Torch Song.”
Enjoy an evening with a thoroughly engaging, entertaining performer and consummate storyteller. Experience Amber’s “pin drop exquisite voice and stylistic eclecticism” as one jazz reviewer noted.
Celebrate L.A.’s finest jazz musicians with Jazz at LACMA, presented Friday evenings from April to November.
This week, join us for a concert with Amber Weekes.
Amber Weekes is a straight-ahead jazz vocalist who has an ongoing love affair with the “torch song.” She has performed in venues throughout Southern California and jazz festivals across the country. Amber’s recent releases includes Round Midnight Re-Imagined, My Romance, and Pure Imagination. During the pandemic, Weekes found time to entertain her friend each week by creating the “Sunday Night Lullaby,” intimate 15-minute concerts from her home via Facebook Live.
Amber Weekes performs selections for her recent album “Pure Imagination” and selections from her brand-new and upcoming holiday release “The Gathering”.
On “Pure Imagination” she also performs several tunes including socially conscious classics, honoring a singer who has been a strong influence in her music, the legendary OSCAR BROWN, JR.
Amber Weekes is a “straight ahead jazz” vocalist and recording artist who has an on-going love affair with the “Torch Song.”
Of Latin and Caribbean roots, Amber is a native of Los Angeles, California who was raised by parents born (her father) and raised (her mother) in Harlem, New York. Among her many influences are: Diahann Carroll, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Bassey, Lena Horne, Oscar Brown, Jr., and the very early recordings of Barbra Streisand. Amber has sung since her childhood, and has studied with Gwendolyn Wyatt, Phil Moore, Jr., Catherine Hansen, Sue Fink, and in most recent years with three-time Grammy nominee, Sue Raney.
A patron at one venue described her voice as being “as soft as a pillow.”
She has performed in many venues in Southern California and has also performed at the New Rochelle Jazz Festival in New York and Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. She has also been a repeated guest on Chet Hanley’s “Jazz In the Modern Era” and “Straight Ahead Jazz Plus.” She was also an attendee at the 2020 Jazz Congress in New York City, New York. Amber’s earlier release “ ‘Round Midnight” was played in markets across the country. Amber’s new release “Pure Imagination” is being played in markets from coast to coast as well as multiple markets in Europe.
AMBER WEEKES, ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined
The provocative title of Amber Weekes’ ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined may have you thinking that the sensual voiced veteran L.A. jazz vocalist simply has in mind regaling us with a batch of well-chosen, lushly arranged and fully swinging standards.
She definitely does that beautifully and infectiously, from her engaging, laid back, Latin spiced whirl through the title song to her snappy, downhome, ultra-bluesy and downright witty burn through Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Hazel’s Hips.” Yet Weekes has a greater artistic vision in mind as she pays homage to her late father Martin, a trombonist and club singer who emulated Frank Sinatra.
One of the more colorful aspects of her personal history is the fact that her paternal grandparents ran a famed Harlem Luncheonette where the likes of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan and Harry Belafonte hung out. The stories her family – especially her dad – told her growing up are the foundation for this ambitious 12-track collection, a remixed, remastered and re-orchestrated version of a 2002 promo recording she made for club and festival work.
Fronting producer Mark Cargill’s vibrant, exquisite string arrangements, Weekes uses a crafty mix of standard ballads, bossa and blues (penned by everyone from Sting (“Sister Moon”), Gershwin (“Summertime”) and Natalie Cole (“Lovers”) to Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer (“One For My Baby,” “The Man That Got Away”) as a foundation for some lush scene setting and colorful narrative that playfully and poignantly captures the various facets of love (flirtation, promise, joy, longing, heartache, regret, etc.) that happen in the big city.
The emotional core of this compelling project – which would translate stunningly to a stage version, hint hint – is The Bar Suite, a direct dedication to Martin which includes smoky, easy swaying spins through “Something Cool,” “One For My Baby” and “The Man That Got Away.”
Round Midnight Re-Imagined
Amber Inn, 2021
Listen Round Midnight Re-Imagined
An artist whose quantity and quality of work run parallel (this is her 4th release in 2 years), Amber Weekes returns with a batch of jazz influenced tunes from the past, and she’s got an all star cast of Southern California musicians with her, including Danny Grissett, Eddy Olivieri and Trevor Ware, among many others.
“Hazel’s Hips” starts the listen with hand clapping fun as Louis Van Taylor’s spirited saxophone supports Weekes’ smooth, soulful pipes, and “Summer Samba” follows with warm piano as Mark Cargill’s playful violin adds much to rhythmic setting.
Landing near the middle, “My Romance” recruits a dreamy climate as an orchestral backdrop complements the expressive, rich singing, while “Don’t You Feel My Leg” is as frisky as the title, where Sherman Ferguson’s proficient drumming and the fluid guitar lines add much to the bluesy delivery. “One For My Baby”, a particularly stirring track, then emits a soft and romantic execution that’s dizzying and sublime.
Close the end, the shuffling pace of “Lovers” will get your body moving to the timeless melody and soothing backing vocals, and “More Than You Know” exits the listen with much depth to Weekes’ soaring vocals as her always exciting brand of jazz exits with as much memorableness as it started.
Originally a promotional recording from 2002 that was made for clubs and festivals, the tracks here are remastered, remixed and reorchestrated. These are all songs that Weekes sang as a child, and are documented here as a tribute to her late father, as she swings and gets soulful in her inimitable and always charming fashion.
Travels well with: Diane Moser- Birdsongs; Anne Neikirk- Spring Shadows
Quotes from reviews of AMBER WEEKES
“A real gem . . . let’s hope (Grammy) voters remember to nominate this set come next September as (Amber’s) mantelpiece has earned this statue. Killer stuff that just plain sounds like heaven.”
– Chris Spector, Midwest Record
“. . . with an impressive set of pipes, Amber Weekes reworks a dozen of her favorite standards on the aptly titled Pure Imagination. . . Most of us won’t be familiar with the bulk of these tunes, and even if you are, Weekes reinvents them in her own light, and it results in a must hear album of swingin’ and soulful jazz.”
-Tom Haugen, Take Effect Reviews
“At the peak of her powers!… Amber Weekes just soars in this new recording – and even those of us who have been following her multiple successes, this new collection of her gifts is an enriching treasure that proves she is at the top of her game.”
-Grady Harp, Hall of Fame Top 100 Reviewer, Amazon.com
“There’s no back story necessary to appreciate the heartfelt, expansive artistry the popular L.A.-based club singer brings to her latest sprinkling of musical glory that is – true to its title and artistically speaking – a work of Pure Imagination.
. . . she draws us in with her pin drop exquisite voice and stylistic eclecticism. . .
Weekes’ adventurousness lets us experience her mining everything from the Great American Songbook (Cole Porter, Ellington) to “The Way He Makes Me Feel” from Yentl to the beautiful Barry Manilow/Johnny Mercer reflection “When October Goes” – the latter rendered as both a brisk bossa and sensual ballad.
. . . Pure Imagination is a revelatory work from an artist the world beyond the L.A. jazz scene needs to hear more of.
– Jonathan Widran, jwvibe