amber weekes pure imagination

Pure Imagination

It has been an honor and a privilege to watch Amber become the most wonderfully talented singer and performer. I’m so very proud of this new album she has done. Such beautiful and interesting songs she has chosen to sing, perfectly done with her warm tones and style of singing. It is truly so enchanting to hear. I hope the world gets to listen and adore her talents as much as I have!

Sue Raney

Ardent Studio Sessions

Recording “Brown Baby” with Trevor Ware

Gone At Last Session At
No-Sound Studio

A recording session for “Gone At Last,” which included Mark Justin on piano, Jeff Kaye on trumpet, Vince Tividad on sousaphone, Louis Van Taylor on baritone saxophone, Randall Willis on tenor saxophone, Robbie Hioki on trombone, and Kenny Sara on bass drum, percussion, and background vocals. Recording engineer Nolan Shaheed with parasol. Kenny Sara as the producer of “Gone At Last.”

With Graphic Artist Jeff Oliver of "On Graphics"

CCI Media

Recording Engineer Gregory Cook listens intently and adjusts meticulously during a recording session at CCIMEDIA.

Track List

1) Pure Imagination – 3:45 (Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse) Downtown Music Publishing LLC. , (Produced from Trevor Ware) Taradam Music, Inc., Justo Almario (flute), Mitchell Long (guitar), Don Littleton (percussion).

TriTone Studios, Sherman Oaks Recording Engineer, Harriet Tam
Dennis Moody Studio -Dennis Moody Recording Engineer

2) It’s All Right with Me – 3:26 (Cole Porter) Chappell & Co. (Produced by Trevor Ware) (Arranged by Brian Swartz) Peter Smith (piano), Trevor Ware (bass), Charles Ruggerio (drums), Curtis Taylor (trumpet), Keith Fiddmont (tenor saxophone), Dale Fielder (baritone saxophone), Munyungo Jackson (percussion) Strings arranged and conducted by Mark Cargill.

Ardent Audio Productions – Rich Wenzel Recording Engineer, Torrance, CA

3) When He Makes Music 4:26 – (Marvin Fisher & Jack Segal) Sony/ATV Tunes LLC, (Produced by Mark Cargill) Tony Campodonico (piano), Jeff Littleton (bass), Nathaniel Scott (drums), Strings arranged & conducted by Mark Cargill (including violin solo), Paul Baker (harp), Ramon Stagnaro (guitar), Gabriel “Slam” Nobles (vibraphone), David Jackson & Munyungo Jackson.

CCI Media Recording Studios – Gregory Cook, Recording Engineer Torrance, CA.

4) The Snake -4:42 –(Oscar Brown, Jr. ) Edward B. Marks Music Company (Produced and Arranged by Trevor Ware) Peter Smith (piano), Trevor Ware (bass and background vocals), Scotty Barnhart (trumpet), Amber Weekes & Trevor Ware (finger snaps). For Mom

Ardent Audio Productions – Rich Wenzel Recording Engineer, Torrance, CA

5) Gotta Be This or That – 2:51 (Sunny Skylar) Music Sales Corporation. (Produced and Arranged by Trevor Ware) (horn arrangement by Brian Swartz) Peter Smith (piano), Trevor Ware (bass), Curtis Taylor (trumpet), Keith Fiddmont ( alto and tenor saxophone).

Ardent Audio Productions – Rich Wenzel Recording Engineer, Torrance, CA

6) Brown Baby – 5:54 – (Oscar Brown, Jr.) Edward B. Marks Music Co., CMG Worldwide Inc. OBO Bootblack Publishing co., (Produced by Trevor Ware) (Arranged by Amber Weekes & Trevor Ware) Trevor Ware (Bass). For all of my babies!

Ardent Audio Productions – Rich Wenzel Recording Engineer, Torrance, CA

7) After You’ve Gone – 2:12 (Henry Creamer, Ray Sherman, Turner Layton) Ray Sherman Music (Produced by Trevor Ware) (Arranged by Brian Swartz) Peter Smith (piano), Trevor Ware (bass), Charles Ruggiero (drums), Curtis Taylor (trumpet), Keith Fiddmont ( alto and tenor saxophone)

Ardent Audio Productions – Rich Wenzel Recording Engineer, Torrance, CA

8) When October Goes 4:21 (Barry Manilow & Johnny Mercer)-(Bossa) WC Music Corp. OBO The Johnny Mercer Foundation, Universal Music Careers, (Produced by Mark Cargill) Tony Campodonico (piano), Jeff Littleton (bass), Nathaniel Scott (drums), Strings arranged & conducted by Mark Cargill, Ramon Stagnaro (guitar), Danilo Lozano (flute), David Jackson & Munyungo Jackson (percussion), Gabriel “Slam” Nobles (vibraphone)

CCI Media Recording Studios – Gregory Cook, Recording Engineer Torrance, CA.

9) Mister Kicks -2:35 – (Oscar Brown, Jr.) CMG Worldwide Inc. OBO Bootblack Publishing co., Edward B. Marks Music Co. (Produced and Arranged by Trevor Ware) (Horn arrangements by Brian Swartz) Peter Smith (Piano), Trevor Ware (bass), Charles Ruggiero (drums), Mitchell Long (guitar), Munyungo Jackson (percussion) Curtis Taylor (trumpet), Keith Fiddmont (alto and tenor saxophone).

Ardent Audio Productions – Rich Wenzel Recording Engineer, Torrance, CA

10) The Way He Makes Me Feel (duet with Mon David) 4:53 – (Legrand, Bergman, Bergman) EMI April Music Inc. (Produced by Mark Cargill) Tony Campodonico (piano), Jeff Littleton (bass), Nathaniel Scott (drums),

Strings arranged & conducted by Mark Cargill, Ramon Stagnaro (guitar), Paul Baker (harp), David Jackson & Munyungo Jackson (percussion)

CCI Media Recording Studios – Gregory Cook, Recording Engineer Torrance, CA.

11) Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me) -2:46 – (Duke Ellington & Leonard Gaines) Sony/ATV Harmony, EMI April Music Inc. OBO EMI Robbins Catalog Inc. (Produced and Arranged by Trevor Ware) (Horn Arrangement by Brian Swartz) Peter Smith (piano), Trevor Ware (bass), Charles Ruggerio (drums), Mitchell Long (guitar), Curtis Taylor (trumpet), Keith Fiddmont (alto and tenor saxophone), Nick Mancini (vibraphones).

Ardent Audio Productions – Rich Wenzel Recording Engineer, Torrance, CA

12) Gone At Last – 4:14 (Paul Simon) Songs of Universal, Inc. OBO Paul Simon Music, (Produced by Kenny Sara/K Kare Music Co. WHO DAT!) (Arranged by Mark Justin/Mark Justin Music) (Background Vocals Arranged by Kenny Sara The Bucjump Brass Band featuring: Jeff Kaye (trumpet), Robbie Hiokie (trombone), Randall Willis (Tenor Sax), Louis Van Taylor (Baritone Sax), Vince Tividad (Sousaphone), Mark Justin (Piano), Kenny Sara (Bass Drum, Snare Drums) Background vocals and handclaps (Amber Weekes and Kenny Sara) Inspired by Efrem Towns – for Christy

No-sound Studio-Nolan Shaheed Recording Engineer

13) Bonus Track: When October Goes 5:21 (Barry Manilow & Johnny Mercer)- (Ballad) WC Music Corp. OBO The Johnny Mercer Foundation, Universal Music Careers, (Produced by Mark Cargill) Tony Campodonico (piano), Jeff Littleton (bass), Nathaniel Scott (drums), Ramon Stagnaro (guitar), Paul Baker (harp), Mark LeVang (accordion), Strings arranged & conducted by Mark Cargill.

CCI Media Recording Studios – Gregory Cook, Recording Engineer Torrance, CA.

An Attitude of Gratitude

I want to thank everyone who contributed financially to make my dreams come true!

Rhonda Hall Alter
Paula Bass
Anthony Berry-Smith
Angelique Blair
Aundray Burks
Wayne Dapser
Angela Gamboa
Ed Gandara
Joseph Graham
Felice Epstein Gross
Michael Gutierrez
Elon Gunning
Bernetta Hartsfield
Ralph M. Hockens
Marylynne Johnson
Ed Jose
Katherine G. Kahn
Fatima Lemus
Anna Levina
Patricia Margulies
Myrna Nance
Billie Proctor
Silvia Shin
Jennifer Taylor
Nicole Weekes
Dawn Weekes-Glenn

There are not words to express my thanks to all who made “Pure Imagination” possible!

First, to every investor and donor, without your generosity, this could not have happened!

To: Producer and Arranger, Trevor Ware: Thank you for being my first “Yes” and being the sinister voice behind “The Snake.” When you’re right, you’re right! Thank for all of your years of music and friendship. Thank you for all of the learning lessons.

To: Producer and Arranger Mark Cargill: Thank you for reaching out to me to provide support and creating a wonderful reunion with you, Gabriel “Slam”Nobles and David Jackson; the great insights, encouraging me to “aim high,” and hearing my voice and letting me know that it could sparkle!

To: Producer Kenny (Mr. “Who Dat!”) Sara: For bringing together the team that created the perfect sound of New Orleans! This was our first meeting, let it not be the last!!!

To Arrangers Brain Swartz and Mark Justin: Thank you for creating something so special just for me!

To: Rich Wenzel, Gregory (“the YOUNG”) Cook, Nolan Shaheed, Harriet Tam, and Dennis Moody: Thank you for pulling all of the sounds together.

To: Gregory Cook and Mark Cargill: Thank you for Masterful Mastering!!

To: All of the 20 plus musicians who contributed to this project, thank you for your wonderful artistry.

To: All of the amazing women who helped me find my own voice and SOUND: Gwendolyn Wyatt, Catherine Hansen, Sue Fink, and most especially, Sue Raney.

Liner Notes

by chet hanely

The diner; ah yes, the diner. Weekes’ Luncheonette, located on 155th Street & St. Nicholas Ave. in Harlem, NYC, provided the beginnings/foundation for the musical career of the lady you are about to hear on this recording. . . Simply stated, Amber Weekes is a consummate vocal stylist, having absorbed the influences from the likes of Duke Ellington (who enjoyed fried egg sandwiches at the Weekes’ diner, served up by her father, Aunts, and Uncle); and other giants of the genre, like Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Diahann Carroll, among many others. Having selected several of Southern California’s first-call musicians to work with, Amber displays her remarkable ability to tell a story and paint a musical portrait, using the lyrics of each song as a vehicle to reach you, the listener. Amber and company explore the music and words of an eclectic group of composers/lyricists; from Cole Porter to Oscar Brown, Jr.; from Duke Ellington to Paul Simon; from a popular song written in 1918 (!) to a more contemporary classic by Barry Manilow/Johnny Mercer. Throughout, Amber displays her vocal versatility, including a remarkable way with a ballad. THE MUSIC: The set begins with a bright, samba-like collaboration featuring Amber and her vocal coach, the legendary Sue Raney, as they interpret the Newley/Bricusse classic, Pure Imagination, from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Justo Almario provides a tasty flute solo, while guitarist Mitchell Long offers just the right, delicate accompaniment. As the song concludes, Amber and Sue hint at what’s to come on this recording. With an augmented band, including strings arranged by Mark Cargill, Amber interprets the Cole Porter standard, It’s All Right With Me, from his musical Can Can (1953). Dale Fielder takes a brief but spirited baritone saxophone solo. Amber’s effortless delivery of the lyrics is noteworthy. The tempo slows and features Amber’s way with a ballad. She interprets the Fisher/Segal ode to all-absorbing passion and longing, When He Makes Music. Mark’s violin solo echoes the poignancy of the lyrics. One of Amber’s musical heroes is Oscar Brown, Jr (OBJ). As a young girl, while travelling with her mother and sisters, OBJ’s cautionary tale, The Snake, aired on the car radio. Mom directed her daughters to listen carefully to the words. That moment left an indelible mark on the young women. Ah yes, the power of the lyric/story-telling. Note Trevor Ware’s sultry acoustic bass as he sets the tempo and feel, while Scotty Barnhart provides some “slithery” fills. Mom would be proud. The band, led by Keith Fiddmont’s alto saxophone stylings, swings into Sunny Skylar’s Gotta Be This Or That (1945). Yes indeed, “Straight-Ahead” is alive and well; Amber channels Ella and Sarah with ease. Amber returns to the OBJ songbook with a moving nod to, arguably, his most heartfelt composition, Brown Baby. We all want the best for our children, and Amber, along with some stellar arco bass accompaniment by Trevor, conveys the message as only they can. The classic, early swing-era tune by Creamer/Layton, After You’ve Gone (1918), is given an up-tempo treatment by Amber and the band. Once again, guitarist Mitchell Long takes a tasty mid-song solo . A nostalgic swinger, indeed! A Bossa-Nova-flavored interpretation of the Barry Manilow/Johnny Mercer tune When October Goes showcases, yet again, Amber’s way with a lyric (and her bilingual skills!). Mark Cargill’s string arrangement adds a lush backdrop to this timeless composition. As before, Amber shares her love of Oscar Brown, Jr.’s brilliant compositions with this rendition of his devilish Mr. Kicks. Throughout, the band swings relentlessly. Once again, Keith Fiddmont’s alto saxophone solo shines. Kudos to to Brian Swartz’s horn arrangements on this and other tunes on this recording date A moving duet by Amber and guest vocalist Mon David brings home the story-telling power of the ballad in the hands of consummate musicians. Michel Legrand, in collaboration with Alan & Marilyn Bergman, wrote this beautiful song, The Way He Makes Me Feel, for the film Yentl (1983). Props are due to Mark Cargill for his stirring string arrangements for this song. Duke Ellington’s Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don’t Tease Me), with lyrics by Lee Gaines (yes, Gaines wrote the lyrics to Billy Strayhorn’s Take The ‘A’ Train) is taken at a leisurely pace, with Amber at her most sultry. Guest artist Nick Mancini takes a few choruses on vibraphone. This is yet another example of nice ‘n easy swing! Any eclectic jazz-oriented set has to take a trip to New Orleans. This nod to NOLA is exemplified by Amber and Company’s interpretation of Paul Simon’s Gone At Last. An all-star band, including Vince Tividad’s punching sousaphone, and background vocals arranged by Kenny Sara, takes the listener on a trip down Bourbon Street and environs. The date closes with a re-interpretation of the Manilow/Mercer collaboration, When October Goes. Amber Weekes can sing a ballad! Frankly, Amber can sing, no matter the tempo, style, or feel. ...and to think, in a sense, it all started in that little diner on 155th & St Nicholas Avenue, Harlem, NYC.

Chet Hanley 2019

Amber Weekes
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