Sky Blossom: Songs From My Tour of Duty

Alexis Cole

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Big Band CD featuring arrangements written by Scott Arcangel from my time serving in the Army's West Point Band

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Jazz Times: November 2021

This big-band bolstered set from ace vocalist Alexis Cole leans on the literal with its subtitle: Songs from My Tour of Duty. In 2009, following a lengthy peripatetic stretch that placed pins on the map in New Jersey, India, Ecuador, Japan and various points across Europe, Cole enlisted in the U.S. Army where, until 2015 she served and sang with the West Point Band’s Jazz Knights. There, she had the opportunity to shine within and above some exceptional Scott Arcangel arrangements tailored to her voice. Yet there was never a focus on formally documenting the majority of that music…until Cole returned to civilian life and made it a priority. Working with collaborator/conductor Jeff Jarvis over the course of several years, she completed the mission and packaged it in this form. 

Revisiting her days in uniform, Cole is in peak shape from the start - a dynamic vocals take on Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring” where she swings, scats, and wordlessly joins in on an intricate soli, all within the first three minutes of play. Soaring across a varicolored backdrop on “Pure Imagination,” exploring a sly-to-sensational range on “All Blues,” wrapping her voice around the quiet splendors of Bossa beauty “Estate,” and traveling gracefully to the stars on “Across the Universe,” Cole continues to make her mark(s). 

Named after a military term for an opening parachute, Sky Blossom, perfectly reflects the leap into the unknown that led this singer into service and positively shaped her art. Eleven performances (the aforementioned material, two Gershwin goodies, plus single dips into the respective songbooks of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Thelonious Monk, Gigi Gryce , and Billy Joel) highlight Cole’s poise and passion when in grand company. And the twelfth - a deeply felt “American Anthem,” with nothing but Jaehun Kang’s piano sharing space - puts her patriotic heart in full view. 

- Dan Bilawsky

 

 

More Reviews of Sky Blossom

Jazz Sensibilities by Jeff Becker 
"Sky Blossom shows that Cole is not interested in stylistic exercises; she brings an impressive arsenal of scatting, phrasing, and warmth of tone and vocal control to the big band genre. Underneath Cole’s remarkable voice, the ensemble cooks with a simmering intensity and excellent writing. Cole is among the smoldering solos on the album that are a joy to listen to and get to know. Her be-bop influence is plain to hear, and each song’s unfolding is filled with suspense and a sense of groove that snaps everything into focus. Cole is a master of juxtapositions: from surly growls to sweetened lines of soaring elegance, her soulful timbre brings each song’s story to life. Cole is a big band singer that can exquisitely render the details necessary to peak above a big band, and that is a rare quality indeed. "

Music Man Blog
Vocalist Alexis Cole is simply the best Jazz vocalist I have heard in many years.  Her new CD, "Sky Blossom" has made me a big fan of her voice and vocal talents.  To find words that describe Alexis' vocal performance to prove without any doubt she has arrived as one of the very best Jazz Vocalists performing today is not difficult!  Here are some of the words that came to my mind when listening to Alexis Cole: high energy, flawless pitch, perfect scat technique, warm, rich vocal tones and strong sense of swing!  Alexis Cole leaves no doubt that she is a major Jazz star even though a lot of the Jazz world is still yet to discover her.

Roots Music Report- Top Albums of 2021 

 Take Effect by Tom Steven 
"her impeccable delivery and diverse range make for a listen that can swing with the best, because, well, she is one of the best" 

 Jazz2Love 
"...her interpretation of these songs will surely leave a pleasant impression on listeners.  Cole's inclination to build community spirit through music is a talent that she owns entirely."

 JazzDaGama by Raul Da Gama
"Clearly Miss Cole has drawn from those who have gone before her, but with lustrous voice and in spectacular fashion she makes each song anew ... In fresh, free voice, Alexis Cole does this timeless music proud ... This is clearly a performance by an artiste of the first order; one with a vocalist in the spotlight with a well-oiled big band that is going to be hard to equal let alone surpass anytime soon."

Part Time Audiophile
"Sky Blossom has that big-budget jazz feel, with big orchestras and sophisticated arrangements... Alexis Cole also has one of those big, beautiful and open jazz voices, classically trained and powerful without strange “jazzy” affectations or even limitations. She’s a beautiful singer with plenty of presence and, taken strictly in a jazz context, she’s unbelievably classy."

 L.A. Jazz Scene by Scott Yanow
"Scott Arcangel’s arrangements swing and bring out the best in the singer. Sky Blossom, which is one of Alexis Cole’s strongest albums, is easily recommended"

 Exclusive Magazine by Anne Carlini
"Whether you’re a long-time jazz fan or a newcomer to the art form, you won’t want to miss a single note from this icon in-the-making." 

 The Jazz Owl by Travis Rogers Jr. 
 ...Sky Blossom, is enough to make the jazz world sit up and take notice...she shows her jazz mastery of interpretation and performance. She is extraordinary. Sky Blossom (a term used to describe and open parachute in descent) is a fabulous album. From the arrangements to the song selection, it creates the undeniably perfect platform for Alexis Cole to show her artistry and mastery. The big band sound and the gorgeous vocals are what every Jazz fan longs for. This is an album worth hearing over and over and over.

WTJU New Jazz & Blues News by Dave Rogers
  "Everyone is dazzlingly sharp and together!"

The Jazz Page 
"It’s a gorgeous production that is truly worth hearing."

Bman's Blues Report 
"Her vocals are crisp and clear and the band is lush."

Neon Jazz Video Interview

New Jersey Jazz Magazine by Joe Lang
"Cole sings with assurance and lends a jazz flavoring to her interpretations ...  These charts...are nicely executed and provide the perfect setting for Cole's impressive vocals"

 Jazz Caravan on KRTU by Carl Stewart
“Alexis is one of my new favorite singers!”

Midwest Record by Chris Spector
"An invigorating date loaded with life force!"

Jazz and Blues Magazine by Ron Weinstock
"ALEXIS COLE establishes herself as a superb jazz vocalist on this album. Sky Blossom is a stellar release."

Jazziz Record Announcement

Press Contact: Kari Gaffney - Kari-On Productions
 706.993.2223 
kari@karigaffney.com 
www.karionproductions.com

The Greatest Gift- Songs of the Season

The Greatest Gift - Songs of the Season

Alexis Cole (Motéma Music)

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The Greatest Gift was conceived and performed by Alexis Cole in collaboration with her father, singer/songwriter Mark Finkin and over 50 musicians from New York City who donated their talents in support of the visionary work of World Bicycle Relief. World Bicycle Relief provides sustainable access to healthcare, education and economic development

The Greatest Gift was conceived and performed by Alexis Cole in collaboration with her father, singer/songwriter Mark Finkin and over 50 musicians from New York City who donated their talents in support of the visionary work of World Bicycle Relief. World Bicycle Relief provides sustainable access to healthcare, education and economic development in needy countries through "The Power of Bicycles"

Personnel: Mark Finkin: vocals, piano; St. Paul's Children's Choir: vocals; St. James' Quartet: harps; Greg Frens: vocal; Don Brayden: sax; Christian Howes: violin; Warren Chasson: vibraphone; Alan Ferber: trombone; Jon Cowherd: piano; Jeff Haynes: percussion; Jessie Lewis: guitar; Ike Sturm: bass; Fred Kennedy: drums; Gottfried Stoger: sax; John Menegon: bass; Alvin Atkinson: drums; Kumar Das: tablas; Pir Shabda Khan: tambura; Zach Brock: violin; Andie Springer: violin; Beth Meyers: viola; Jody Redhage: cello; Warren Chasson: vibes; Tedd Firth: piano.

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Downbeat Magazine Review December 2009

Downbeat Magazine Review December 2009

Reviews:
Amazon Customer Review - This is serious Christmas music, from a very serious jazz musician and exquisite vocalist. It is compositionally, harmonically and melodically inventive, with a grab-bag of musical surprises in every tune, and in every selection. Incredibly well-executed by some of the finest jazz players you'll ever hear. This isn't a 'throw-away' smooth-jazz/ newage Christmas record, either. This album is musically powerful and will retain its interest throughout the year, not just at Christmas. A great Christmas present for the jazz lover and the discerning ear, but accessible for the novice jazz fan as well. A tour de force, highly recommended.
Jazz Times - Lee Mergner Holiday Roundup
World Music Report- Raul da Gama
Biblical Christianity Blog 
All Music - Ken Dryden
All About Jazz - Bridget A. Arnwine
Vocation Carol - Franciscan Sisters
Straight No Chaser Blog
Dena Dyer Blog



 

A Beautiful Friendship

Alexis Cole & Bucky Pizzarelli

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Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar Frank Vignola: guitar Nicki Parrott: bass/ vocals Anat Cohen: clarinet Warren Vaché: cornet

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Someday My Prince Will Come

Someday My Prince Will Come

Alexis Cole

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Disney Love Songs with Fred Hersch: piano Steve LaSpina: bass Matt Wilson: drums Gregoire Maret: harmonica Don Braden: tenor, soprano, flute

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Dazzling Blue - The Music of Paul Simon

You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To

Close Your Eyes - The Sultry Sound of Jazz

I Carry Your Heart - Music of Pepper Adams

A Kiss in the Dark