Translated from Italian-
Amber Weekes – Pure Imagination
The new album by American vocalist Amber Weekes finds her in the company of Peter Smith and Tony Copodonico on the piano, Trevor Wane and Jeff Littleton double bass, Charles Ruggiero and Nathaniel Scott drums, Keith Fiddmont on sax, Curtis Taylor and Scotty Barnhart trumpet, Mark Cargil violin , arranger / conductor and Munyungo Jackson percussion. She has often been on tour in the United States and so the great experience on the stage can be seen while she interprets standards not too well known together with Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me) by Duke Ellington and Gone at Last by Paul Simon. There’s a duo with Trevor Wane’s double bass, Brown Baby, elsewhere there are sections of string, in every situation you can manage executions with authority, thanks to a powerful but at the same time very warm voice. There is no lack of respectable solos from the soloists called to participate, but obviously his voice reigns over everything. Nice record, which renews the tradition and introduces us to a singer able to interpret an variegated repertoire in an authentic way.
Genre: vocal jazz
Label: Amber Productions
01. Pure Imagination (feat. Sue Raney)
02. It’s All Right with Me
03. When He Makes Music
04. The Snake
05. Gotta Be This or That
06. Brown Baby
07. After You’ve Gone
08. When October Goes
09. Mr. Kicks
10. The Way He Makes Me Feel (feat. Mon David)
11. Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me)
12. Gone at Last
13. When October Goes
Swingin’ soulful jazz vocals Amber Weekes – PURE IMAGINATION: If your listening pleasure is totally enhanced by swingin’ soulful jazz vocals, you won’t be able to resist this delightful release from Amber. As always, the best way to get familiar with a performer is to watch them, so scope out this ultra-hip live video of Amber doing “Mr. Kicks“…
…to enjoy more live performances, be sure you SUBSCRIBE to Amber’s YouTube channel, too… I did.
One of the most upbeat tunes on the album, “Gotta Be This or That“, had me on my feet (headphones on, lol) & dancin’ ’round the room for the entire 2:53 length… this is (unquestionably) the sweetest rendition of Sunny Skylar’s tune, thanks to Amber’s superb jazz vocal skills!
The player list is far too long to itemize here, so check out the album page to get all the details… that back-alley bass intro on “The Snake” is “sneaky”, for sure… the finger-snaps will have you on the edge of your seat for the entire 4:44… one of the slickest jazz performances I’ve listened to (yet) in 2019.
There was no doubt in my mind what my choice for personal favorite of the thirteen tunes offered up would be… Amber’s performance on Paul Simon’s “Gone At Last” will take you right on back to your roots & lift your spirit up high!
I give Amber and her high-talent, high-energy players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 4.98. Get more information on Amber’s website. Rotcod Zzaj
AMBER WEEKES – “PURE IMAGINATION” Amber inn Productions
Amber Weekes, vocals; Peter Smith & Tony Compodonico, pianists; Trevor Ware, bass/co-producer/background vocals; Jeff Littleton, bass; Charles Ruggiero & Nathaniel Scott, drums; Mitchell Long & Ramon Stagnaro, guitars; Justo Almario & Danilo Lazano, flute; Keith Fiddmont, alto & tenor saxophone; Dale Fielder, baritone saxophone; Curtis Taylor, Jeff Kaye & Scotty Barnhart, trumpets; Mark Cargill, violin/string arranger/conductor & co-producer; Munyungo Jackson, David Jackson & Don Littleton, percussionist; Nick Mancini & Gabriel “Slam” Nobles, vibraphone; Sue Raney & Mon David, vocals; Paul Baker, harp; Brian Swartz, horn arrangements; Mark LeVang, accordion; THE BUCKJUMP BRASS BAND: Robbie Hiokie, trombone; Randall Willis, tenor saxophone; Louis Van Taylor, baritone Saxophone; Vince Tividad, sousaphone; Mark Justin, piano; Kenny Sara, bass drum/snare drums/percussion/background vocals/handclaps.
Amber Weekes has a smooth, pleasing style. Her voice is crystal clear and during this repertoire, she pleasantly performs a Baker’s Dozen of notably familiar songs. Opening with the title tune borrowed from the Willy Wonka movie, Amber Weekes invites jazz vocalist Sue Rainey to make a guest appearance. She has studied with Raney and their voices blend nicely. I am struck by the Weekes way of stylizing her music, leaving space for the songs to breathe. Her phrasing is measured, like an instrumentalist rather than a singer. She doesn’t hold the tones out for long periods of time or delve into lengthy legato phrasings. Weekes displays skills by going straight to the notes without sliding. Every word is clearly enunciated and every melody is emotionally enriched. Her choice of tunes shows an expansive appreciation for many genres of music and includes compositions by Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Oscar Brown Jr., Barry Manilow and Johnny Mercer. She introduced me to “When He Makes Music” by Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal. This is a treasure trove of great songs.
The West Coast musicians shine on this Weekes album of fine jazz. Scotty Barnhart is outstanding on trumpet during Amber Weekes’ polished presentation of “The Snake.” Trevor Ware’s big, fat tones on double bass carries the rhythm section effectively during Sunny Skylar’s, “Gotta Be This or That.” Weekes brightly ‘swings’ this tune. On Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Brown Baby” composition, Weekes and Trevor Ware duet, effectively showcasing her voice with only bass accompaniment. Ware pulls out his bow on this one to beautifully sing his solo. Amber Weekes and her producers have employed the talents of numerous studio musicians, handpicked for various sessions and representative of some of the best jazz players in Southern California. For example, she uses Jeff Littleton’s strong bass chops on “When October Goes” and the stellar guitar licks of Ramon Stagnaro blended with a happy flute embellishment by Danilo Lazano. They have arranged this Manilow hit with a Latin flair. Weekes invites Mon David to join her in interpreting, “The Way He Makes Me Feel,” using a harp tastefully added by Paul Baker and Mark Cargill continues to enrich the production with his string arrangements. This Amber Weekes album of music is a fine way to begin your New Year. It’s scheduled for a January 3rd release.
AMBER WEEKES/Pure Imagination: One of LA’s jazz vocal treasures serves up a great album for anyone that misses classic jazz vocal albums done right. Pulling Sue Raney out of mothballs and making Tony Newley work side by side with Oscar Brown, this well-conceived set does nothing but hit all the right notes throughout. A real gem that should have come out a hair earlier to qualify for the current Grammy year, let’s hope voters remember to nominate this set come next September as her mantelpiece has earned this statue. Killer stuff that just plain sounds like heaven.