“Award-winning jazz vocalist Alexis Cole may be the most talented singer to ever hold a top-secret military clearance,” the liner notes say, and I have to admit that got my attention. But Sky Blossom from Cole, the second album this week to use blossoms in its themes, already had my attention long before I sat down to write this review. I had already noticed the Zoho Music logo in the upper right of the front cover, and you all know I admire and respect this record label. It’s been a while since a Zoho release has made it to my mailbox.
Zoho, in the past, has focused on Latin jazz, particularly from South America. This Alexis Cole album has a completely different feel to it. Other than the military angle–Cole’s first album, back in 2009, was released at roughly the same time as she enlisted in the Army as a, well, a jazz singer. I’m not sure if that’s a non-com rank or not.
That’s certainly the background of this album, but none of comes into play if you simply start listening. Sky Blossom has that big-budget jazz feel, with big orchestras and sophisticated arrangements, and Alexis Cole stands up front and sings all types of standards–Beatles, Gershwin, Miles, even Billy Joel. (That is the second time this week I mentioned Billy Joel, which is odd since I’m not a fan.)
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. Because Sky Blossoms is so rewarding due to its almost universal appeal, yeah, fire this baby up at the holidays and dance–a slow dance–in front of the house guests until they feel a little uncomfortable and pretend they have to leave. It’ll be worth it.