Alexis Cole
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Alexis Cole

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To Whom It May Concern – Imagine a new singer WHO CAN ACTUALLY SING – You can't know how happy I am to receive something fresh and new – I never ever write to record companies or artist but this is an exception – I have been hosting a highly listened to jazz program for WQUB for the past 16 years and I've been waiting for another Carmen Lundy, Nancy Wilson etc. to come along and finally…Alexis – Great job and we will heavily rotate this one – The trio behind her is tight and good, good, good – All of the newer singers and their cd's are so damn prosaic generally and I don't bother to listen to most of them – I hope that we hear more of Alexis – simply great – Sincerely – Mike Smith, host of “Jazzwaves with Mike Smith�

'Tis a terrific CD-- and a pleasure for me to share with my audiences. Needless to say, I'll be using it for many weeks to come. my compliments to the talented Ms. Cole-- may she go Platinum in the forseeable. Best wishes: Fritz Peerenboom Nite Owl Jazz: Sundays, 9P-Mid, WJZA-WJZK-FM: Columbus, Ohio

Thanks for sending us your "Nearer The Sun" - outstanding! We put it in our play list 6/14, and began airing it right away. Please keep us on your active mailing list for other releases, and keep up the good work! Cordially, Gene Purcell, Regional Manager Wisconsin Public Radio Radio Station WLSU-FM

Hi Alexis - Just a note to say we've received your disc "nearerthesun" here at KUMD in Duluth. It's really a terrific recording! We've already started to share it with listeners ("How Insen" and "Night Train" are early favs). Will be getting 3-4 spins a week within our very eclectic format.
Best Wishes, John Ziegler (Program Dir. KUMD)

Thanks for the new CD. It will go into our play list 5/28. A great debut release! -Doug Collar, WKAR-FM

I'm back from the Spring Membership Drive , so have finally gotten around to the stack of CDs that's been piling up. Yours is a winner…very nicely performed and recorded. I enjoyed it very much, and will debut it here this weekend. Best of luck with this recording. Bright Moments, Lenny Mazel, (Music Dir. KCME)

Many thanks for your good work,
I just had a chance to listen last night. The album is beautiful (especially your take on "funny valentine"). I'll ad it to our new music bin for our djs.
Best, Andrew Shaw (Music Dir. KWMR)

Fine creative vocals. Ear friendly indeed.
-Mr. Biz (Jazz Dir. WNMC) - Jazz Radio Hosts


A very impressive up-and -coming vocalist, Alexis Cole has a deep voice, a swinging style, nd the willingness to take chances. Her CD Nearer the Sun features her creating fresh renditions of standards while accompanied by a fine rhythm section led by pianist Ben Stivers. Among the highlights are a rare vocal version of 'Night Train,' a cheerful 'East of the Sun,' Jimmy Rowles' 'The Peacocks,' and an uptempo 'You Make Me Feel so Young.' This is a particularly strong effort from a jazz singer well worth discovering. - All Media Guide LLC


When the CD arrived I was already familiar with the music. Alexis gave me a demo CD when I was introduced to her by John Craddock in October 2004 at Helen Merril's opening at the Iridium, NYC. I suspected then from her enthusiasm for Helen's supreme artistry that Alexis had the right ideas about jazz singing and so it proved when I heard the record.

For a debut album it is remarkably assured and distinctive. She sings in tune with clear diction and rich, expressive voice. She also interacts with the talented trio in true jazz fashion; this is no pop or cabaret artiste following the current vogue for pseudo-jazz.

This can be guessed from the evident taste shown in the selection of the material- every number is an unhackneyed, challenging gem. Confirmation comes from hearing the mature way in which she engages with the songs; exploring their moods and emotions without superficial artifice, respecting the attractive melodies yet finding ways to reshape some lines in the manner of Billie or Sassy. Alexis has clearly learnt from all the right mentors without slavishly copying anyone.

There is commendable variety both in the song selection and in their treatment. Her fresh approach to the standards allows previous well-known intrepretations to be temporarily forgotten. Duke's Night Train shows she can sing a slow blues like a veteran, she brings a beguiling sensitivity to the two Latin numbers and she swings hard on the uptempo You Make Me Feel So Young. The most unusual number is Poem for #15, Steve Kuhn's lilting elegy for a baseball star who died in a plane crash. Unusual but movingly sung and very engaging.

Lovers of the art of true jazz singing should find the trouble of tracking down this wholly admirable album fully rewarded. In case of difficulty, I suggest checking the website www.alexiscole.com. The sound quality and packaging are exemplary.

- Bob Weir


A fine young vocalist based in New York, Alexis Cole graduated from William Paterson University, spent ten months performing in the Caribbean and has worked in Europe including appearing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Nearer The Sun is her second recording. For this set, Ms. Cole is accompanied by pianist Ben Stivers, bassist John Hebert and drummer Anthony Pinciotti, none of whom are household names but all of whom sound quite comfortable in this setting. "All The Things You Are" shows off some inventive scatting (with a good choice of notes and use of space), a rare vocal version of "Night Train" displays Alexis Cole's warm voice on some long tones and, although "My Funny Valentine" did not need to be revived again, this version is fairly fresh. None of the other selections are throwaways either. "How Insensitive" is given a coolly dramatic reading, she does a good job with a slower-than-usual version of "The Peacocks" and interpreting "You Make Me Feel So Young" as an uptempo romp is quite unique. All in all, this is an impressive early effort by an up-and-comer, available from www.alexiscole.com.

- Scott Yanow


Dec 16, 2009

For many artists, holiday recordings can be more like a sampler as much because the material is itself so diverse in style and structure. That can be problematic for some artists, but Alexis Cole and her supporting cast really went with the flow on this excellent recording, using very creative yet distinct arrangements for each song. Coles rather straight singing voice belies a fondness for the adventurous here, as she shares the spotlight gracefully and artfully. Listening without seeing the cover, one might not even know that she is the leader among such first-rate jazz musicians as Don Braden, Alan Ferber, Ike Sturm and other noted NYC players. And thats a good thing.

The music has a warm, organic feel, whether taking The Call off on an acoustic jam à la Oregon or doing Rise Up Shepherd and Follow with an Indian-raga feel. Cole and her supporting cast sound like theyre having fun here. Emphasizing the uplifting side of holiday music throughout, Ms. Cole also deserves style points for donating proceeds from the CD sales to a humanitarian organization (World Bicycle Relief).
- Editor in Chief Lee Mergner's Holiday Roundup


The third recording for jazz singer and world traveler Alexis Cole has her in an intimate setting, with no drummer, pianist, or horns. Guitar and bass supply the cozy backdrop and playmates for Cole to weave her romantic spell based on her flatted, unpretentious style. There's a certain familiarity to her individuality that is hard to pin down, perhaps somewhere between the cattiness of Nancy Wilson, the unrushed feeling of Sarah Vaughan or the coy cool of Cassandra Wilson. Choosing a bevy of standards, Cole makes you wish the room she is in was nearer to you, and acts as the sage twice her youthful years. Her siren, sweet, and slow version of "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You?" is pretty convincing, as is the expressive light samba version of "Over the Rainbow" and the sleek, slinky take of "God Bless the Child." Don't peg Cole as simply a torch singer, though, as she changes up "Stompin' at the Savoy," starting leisurely, speeding up gradually, and scatting a bit. She does the same thing to "Walkin'" beginning with a snippet of "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" and merging into the well-established lithe and skittering Richard Carpenter bop line. A bowed bass from Jeff Eckels and curious guitar by Ron Affif identify the title cut as a personal statement Cole enjoys turning heartbreakingly darker. Of the ten tracks, the Affif/Eckels tandem appears on eight, with the consistently delightful Affif a standout. Two other cuts are from a 2003 session with guitarist Saul Rubin and bassist Jon Roche including "Walkin'" and the short, lovable "Morning with You" exudes a smiling, satisfied, waking up in bed with someone special glow. As Cole's travels to distant lands influence her tune choices, this may be the last of her legitimate jazz recordings. For now it's a good representation of how she feels about standard fare, done her way. - Michael G. Nastos


Award-winning vocalist Alexis Cole is getting ready for Christmas with The Greatest Gift. The disc features 14 tracks, including original songs and some Christmas favorites such as "Joy to the World," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Away in a Manger," and "Silent Night." The titles may be familiar, but Cole's unique interpretation turns the songs into jazz, blues and classical musicall highlighting her warm and rich vocals, so emotive they register in the keys of love and gratitude.

Inspiration for the disc's title came from her father, singer/composer Mark Finkin, who in 2007 performed at a recital called "The Greatest Gift" during his long-awaited college graduation festivities. It was around this time that Cole rededicated herself to the church and ultimately to music. Inspired by her religious feeling and the Christmas holiday, Cole is dedicating part of the sales from The Greatest Gift to the World Bicycle Relief Fund, an organization that raises money in support of disaster aid.

Standout performances include the disc's opening selection, an up-tempo instrumental of "Joy to the World"; "Jeanette Isabella/The Call," which includes original songwriting by Cole in a spiritual "call" to celebrate all children; a bluesy version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," featuring vocals by Cole and her father; "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," done with a Caribbean twist; "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow," an African-American spiritual reinvented to include Indian music; and "The Happiest Christmas," a stripped-down, bare-bones performance with piano, violin and Cole's vocals.

Expressions of charity and goodwill are sprinkled throughout the disc, from the liner notes to the enhanced CD featuring videos of the World Bicycle Relief fund. It's one thing to reference the celebration of Jesus in an album title, and quite another to honor love and community with the album itself. The Greatest Gift is more than jazzed-up Christmas musicit's a gift that comes from within.
- staff


Like too many a jazz singer, young Alexis Cole is, three albums into what deservedly should be a high-profile career, far better known, and respected, in Japan than in the United States. The native New Yorker is blessed with a deep contralto as smooth and dark as the richest espresso (with a dash of nicely-tempered, Patty Waters-esque wail added for good measure). Here, backed only by gentle strings—Ron Affif on guitar and Jeffrey Eckels on bass (with guitarist Saul Rubin and bassist Jon Roche substituting on two tracks recorded back in 2003)—her wide-ranging expressiveness and sunny demeanor are given plenty of space to stretch out.

It’s not easy to add anything startlingly new to “Over the Rainbow” or “Sweet Lorraine” or “God Bless the Child,” all so strongly associated with the superstars who introduced them, but Cole manages to make each welcomingly distinctive. Refreshing, too, are her takes on “Body and Soul,” interpreted in the somewhat desperate style of such boozy anthems as “Something Cool” and “Waiter, Make Mine Blues,” and a “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” that sounds as if it is being transmitted directly from a boudoir trimmed in black lace. Best, though, is the blend of childlike hurt and adult heartache she brings to the title track, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s gray-clouded tale of shattered romance.
- Christopher Loudon


Benefiting the World Bicycle Relief project, vocalist Cole and her jazz friends (including Don Braden, Christian Howes, Alan Ferber), plus St. Paul's Children's Choir and the St. James Quartet, celebrate the sanctity of the season with busy but serviceable arrangements of 14 seasonal songs. Secure in her religious faith, Cole really gives it her all siinging the spiritual "Rise Up, Shepherd, And Follow," supported by Indian classical musicians. - staff


Discography

As a leader

LP 'The Greatest Gift: Songs of the Season' (Motema 2009)

LP 'Someday My Prince Will Come' (Venus Records Japan 2009) Fred Hersch - p, Matt Wilson - d, Steve LaSpina -b, Don Braden- sax, Gregoire Maret -harm.

LP 'Zingaro' (Canopy Jazz 2007) Ron Affif-g, Jeff Eckels-b

LP 'Nearer the Sun' (Canopy Jazz 2005) Ben Stivers-p, John Hebert-b, Anthony Pinciotti-d

LP 'Very Early' (1999) Harry Pickens-p

Additional Recordings
LP Cinema St. James, Pasquale T. (2000)
LP Halfmoon Highway, Cinema St. Jack, Pasquale T. (2003)

various commercials

Photos

Bio

Velvet-voiced jazz vocalist Alexis Cole is cited as ‘a rising star in the jazz world’ by Hot House Magazine. She has been featured on NBC’s NY Morning Show and in magazines Time Out NY, Downbeat, Jazz Times, Swing Journal, All About Jazz and many more. Her five releases as a leader can be heard on jazz radio stations around the world. Cole can often be seen performing both internationally and in NYC’s top venues, Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smoke, The Oak Room, The Kitano and others. Jazz Weekly calls Cole’s latest release The Greatest Gift, ‘A gift to mankind,’ and Cashbox Magazine says that ‘Cole’s soulful voice resonates long after the album has played its final notes.’ The Greatest Gift on Motema Music is a benefit project for World Bicycle Relief, empowering people in the world’s poorest countries through The Power of Bicycles. Her other 2009 release Someday My Prince Will Come on Venus Records in Japan is a collection of Disney love songs featuring the acclaimed pianist Fred Hersch. Also known as Sergeant Cole, Alexis recently became lead vocalist with the West Point Jazz Knights Big Band after finishing basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.