round midnight re imagined

'Round Midnight- Re- Imagined Review: The JW Vibe

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 Review: Bistro Awards

May 30, 2021 | By Gerry Geddes
Singer Amber Weekes’s newest release, ‘Round Midnight — Re-Imagined, has a classic, lived-in feel that allows the listener to luxuriate in its style, its romance, its intelligence, and its sheer musical richness while enjoying the rich storytelling and the trove of surprises to be found in its tracks. There is quite a lot of backstory and factual context in the liner notes that tie all the songs together, but I am tempted to suggest listening to the CD a couple of times to discover what the songs and her interpretations say to you before finding out what they mean to her and the story she wants to tell. I always tell my students that there should always be truth in performance but there do not have to be facts. Amber Weekes has enough truth in evidence here to fill at least a half-dozen albums! In the opener, “Hazel’s Hips” (Oscar Brown, Jr.), the singer uses a bump n’ grind, bluesy saloon delivery with a knowing wink and nod at the naughtiness of the tale she’s telling. Then comes “Summer Samba” (aka “So Nice”) (Marcos Valle, Paulo Sérgio Valle, Norman Gimbel) combining the feeling of a sensual, sultry summer breeze with a pulsing yet relaxed intensity. Here, and throughout the recording, the gorgeous strings are the work of producer, arranger, and conductor Mark Cargill, who also contributes terrific violin solos. Weekes’s savvy jazz sense and emotional story connection remain strong in a remarkable foray into “church,” with a pairing of Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor” with “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” (traditional spiritual) that impresses no matter what the listener’s religious position. The arrangement imbues a spiritual investigation of the lyrics with a cinematic lushness and smolder that transform the piece. Another inspired medley has Sting’s “Sister Moon” moving beautifully into “Summertime” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Dubose & Dorothy Heyward) with stellar work by Sherman Ferguson on drums. “My Romance” (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) is a virtual duet between the singer and “Eddy” Olivieri’s sensitive keyboard wafting to the heavens on clouds of strings. On “Don’t You Feel My Leg” (JM Williams, Danny Barker, Lou Barker) the naughty wit that peeked around the corners of “Hazel’s Hips” bursts out in a sexy flirtation that doubles every entendre in sight. The legendary guitarist Phil Upchurch takes this, and every track on which he appears, up a notch. The centerpiece of the album is a grouping of three songs into what is called “The Bar Suite” that is practically a storyboard for an as-yet-unmade movie of romance and broken hearts. First is Billy Barnes’s classic “Something Cool,” which Weekes imbues with an endearing, bittersweet coquettishness that is a bit passed its sell-by date. The accompaniment is so evocative on this that I could practically see and smell the smoke hanging over the bar from the cigarettes that might be “fun with something cool.” Next comes “One for My Baby” (Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer) pulsing with gin-soaked regret and resignation. This leads to the smoldering longing of “The Man That Got Away” (Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin) that burns with controlled intensity with flames provided by Louis Van Taylor’s gorgeous soprano saxophone. “’Round Midnight” (Thelonius Monk, Cootie Williams, Bernie Hanighen) has a welcome and unexpected fragility that the arrangement and, in particular the strings, explore and reinforce. “More Than You Know” (Vincent Youmans, Billy Rose, Edward Eliscu) provides a moving finale that is just perfect. Amber Weekes knows what she is doing—so much so that the listener can just sit back and relax and be transported to a faraway time and place. It is a welcome escape that I will be visiting again and again.  


'Round Midnight- Re- Imagined Review: Take Effect

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

Original link:


Scroll to Top