Amber Weekes
A Lady With A Song – Amber Weekes Celebrates Nancy Wilson

On A Lady With A Song, Amber Weekes pays homage to one of her inspirations, Nancy Wilson, while welcoming such all-stars as guitarists Russell Malone and Paul Jackson Jr., tenor-saxophonists Gerald Albright and Rickey Woodard, and Justo Almario on flute. Arranged and produced by Mark Cargill who also plays violin, the wide-ranging program features Amber Weekes’ beautiful voice and personal phrasing at her most expressive.

MUSICIANS: Russell Malone – guitar (feat. tr 1,5), Paul Jackson Jr. – sax (feat. tr2,8), Gerald Albright – sax (feat. tr2), Rickey Woodard – sax (feat. tr11), Justo Almario – flute (feat. tr6,9). Also feat. Ray Monteiro & Mike Cordone – trumpet (tr3), Mark Cargill – Violin (tr7,8), Rashawn Ross – Trumpet (tr10), Tony Campodonico – Acoustic and Rhodes Piano (tr13), Jacob Scesney – Tenor Saxophone (tr13), plus others.

1. Gentleman Friend (Arnold B. Horwitt, Richard Lewine) 2:18
2. Save Your Love For Me (Buddy Johnson) 5:13
3. A Lady With a Song (Ken Hirsch, L. Smokey Bates) 4:19
4. Ten Good Years (Marty Charin, Luther Henderson) 3:43
5. What a Little Moonlight Can Do (Harry M. Woods) 4:04
6. Midnight Sun (Johnny Mercer, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Burke) 4:22
7. Suppertime (Irving Berlin) 5:51
8. Wave (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 4:28
9. Guess Who I Saw Today (Elisse Boyd, Murray Grand) 3:47
10. I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco (Tony Wolf) 3:32
11. The Best is Yet To Come (Carolyn Leigh, Cy Coleman) 3:35
12. You’re Gonna Hear From Me (Andre Previn and Dory Previn) 3:57
13. Wasn’t It Wonderful (Ed Pola and George Wile) 3:09

A memorable jazz singer based in Southern California, Amber Weekes has always been a storyteller who puts a lot of heart and honest feelings into her interpretations of superior standards taken from a wide variety of sources.

The same can be said of Nancy Wilson (1937–2018). The beloved singer was discovered by Cannonball Adderley (with whom she made a classic album), recorded a string of jazz-inspired albums for Capitol in the 1960s, had great success in the pop world, and was an influential household name during her final 50 years.

In her homage to Nancy Wilson, Amber Weekes and her producer, arranger, and conductor Mark Cargill chose songs from Wilson’s huge repertoire that convey a wide variety of emotions and styles. With a top-notch background group that on various songs includes pianists Tony Campodonico and Andy Langham, bassists Jeff Littleton and John B. Williams, and drummers Fritz Wise and Oscar Seaton, several horns and (on “Suppertime”) a gospel choir, plus such featured guests as guitarists Russell Malone and Paul Jackson Jr, and tenor-saxophonists Gerald Alright and Rickey Woodard, the singer creates some of her most inspiring performances.

An uptempo “My Gentleman Friend” begins the program in a joyful mood. The new version of the classic “Save Your Love For Me” has a light bossa rhythm and singing by Amber that is both swinging and soulful. Lesser known are “A Lady With A Song” (recorded by Wilson in 1989) and the 1965 song “Ten Good Years” during which Amber sings the rapid lyrics with confidence.

Irving Berlin’s “Suppertime” which deals with a lynching, is often sanitized in other versions but Amber added a spoken word section during which she frankly explains the horrible situation. Among the other highlights are “What A Little Moonlight Can Do” which the singer takes a bit slower than is typical, her excellent ballad singing on “Midnight Sun,” Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave” which has Cargill contributing a violin solo, Nancy Wilson’s trademark song “Guess Who I Saw Today” which Amber manages to make her own, and the good-humored “I’m Always Drunk In San Francisco.” A Lady With A Song concludes with a happy and determined “The Best Is Yet To Come,” Amber’s heartfelt ballad singing on “You’re Gonna Hear From Me,” and the spirited jazz waltz “Wasn’t It Wonderful.”

The latter piece was one of the songs that Amber Weekes sang for her parents with her sister when she a child. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Amber had parents who were both singers. She was exposed early on to all types of music, from Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles to the Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Motown, classical music, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday. A professional singer as a teenager, she has since taken lessons from Sue Raney for many years. Amber has worked in virtually every Southern California club in addition to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, New York’s New Rochelle Jazz Festival and the Hampstead Jazz Club in London. Her earlier recordings include ‘Round Midnight – Reimagined, Pure Imagination, and The Gathering.

With the release of A Lady With A Song, which features Amber Weekes at her best, one of today’s greats pays homage to a legend.

A Lady With A Song – Amber Weekes Celebrates Nancy Wilson

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May 24, 2024
FILE: Jazz Vox

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“Wasn’t It Wonderful

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Kate Smith Promotions specializes in non-commercial community public, college, internet, and cable tv radio airplay... CD and Digital service; artist interviews, and chart ratings for all jazz and jazz-related CD projects. We have worked with diverse artists such as Von, George, & Chico Freeman, Christopher Hollyday, Wayne Wallace, Either/Orchestra, Nnenna Freelon, Kim Nazarian, Joseph Daley, Jason Kao Hwang, and Dave Stryker.