Joe’s Restaurant, Abbot Kinney’s original fine dining experience where farmer’s market ingredients meet California-French cuisine in a comfortable neighborhood atmosphere in Venice Beach, is pleased to present a monthly jazz series to coincide with the First Friday’s Art Walks. Mohr Music presents the First Fridays Jazz Series at Joe’s featuring instrumental and vocal artists, internationally recognized players as well as great local talent, signed and unsigned, playing on the heated patio.
The June 1 First Fridays Jazz Series installment kicks off at 7pm with noted jazz singer Judy Wexler and her quartet including Jeff Colella on keys, Kendall Kay on drums and Chris Colangelo on bass.
“Judy Wexler is a natural storyteller, with a distinctive voice full of shadings. She knows how to dig into a song and find its essence. She is also “one of the most focused, unpretentious, no-nonsense, bop-oriented jazz singers around” (JazzTimes), with an “instinctive ability to bring out the best in each song, often taking it into unfamiliar territory” (All Music Guide).
Her 2005 debut, Easy on the Heart, made radio waves and introduced her to a wide jazz audience. Dreams & Shadows, her 2008 follow-up, debuted at #2 on the national JazzWeek chart and confirmed her ability to find great songs and effortlessly bring them to life. Judy was interviewed on NPR Weekend Edition by Susan Stamberg, who said, “From the evidence on her new second album, Dreams & Shadows, Judy Wexler can sing almost anything.”
Judy is thrilled to present her newest musical offering on the Jazzed Media label. Under a Painted Sky marries Judy’s expressive storytelling and out-of-the-box song selections with the richly harmonic arrangements of pianist Alan Pasqua. Her most personal and compelling release to date, John Gilbert of Jazzreview.com raves, “This recording should be in the true Jazzophiles collection — it gets no better!”
A Los Angeles native, Judy always had music in her life. Her father, a music lover who constantly played recordings by Ella, Frank, and Sarah, as well as classical music, started her on piano lessons at the age of five. She loved performing, and played piano, sang, and acted in plays and musicals in high school. In college at UC Santa Cruz, she focused on theater and classical piano.
After college, she moved to San Francisco, where she worked in theater and met her future husband. He was a huge jazz fan, and together they frequented the renowned Keystone Korner, which was just down the hill from their North Beach apartment. Between her husband’s vast record collection and the legendary jazz artists they heard at Keystone, Judy became hooked. As Judy says, “it drew me in then and never let go.”
A few years later, the couple moved to Los Angeles. Judy continued performing in theater and television, and guest-starred on the comedy hit “Frasier.” She decided to indulge her passion for jazz by studying at Dick Grove Music School. She took jazz piano courses and all of Grove’s jazz harmony classes. She studied jazz piano privately with Terry Trotter and jazz singing with some great L.A. teachers, like Sue Raney, Tom Garvin, and Tamir Hendelman, and began gigging. A few years of increased exposure on the L.A. scene earned her a reputation for the craftsmanship and emotional immediacy of her singing, while displaying her knack for compiling a spirited, cliche-free repertoire.
Judy’s passion for singing has taken her all around the world. She has sung at jazz festivals in Montreal, Tel Aviv, Dubai, San Jose, and Temecula, where she opened for Mose Allison. She has headlined at such noted clubs as the Blue Note, Kitano and Feinstein’s in New York, Jazz Alley in Seattle, Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles, the Cellar in Vancouver, and Nardis Jazz Club in Istanbul.
Jeff Colella toured with the late and legendary Lou Rawls as his pianist/conductor for nearly sixteen years until his untimely passing in 2006, appearing at Jazz Festivals, clubs, and with orchestras throughout the U.S. and abroad. Prior to that, he toured worldwide for seven years with the Jazz Tap Ensemble. Jeff has performed and/or recorded with a wide range of artists, including Diane Schuur, Stacey Rowles, Bobby Shew, Sheila Jordan, Kenny Washington, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and the Bill Holman Big Band, to name a few. One of LA’s busiest jazz pianists, he has appeared in concert as a solo artist and with his trio, and maintains a busy freelance schedule as pianist, arranger, composer and clinician.
Born in Durban, South Africa, Kendall Kay moved to the United States in 1983 to study Jazz at North Texas State University. He moved to L.A. in 1987 and has become a U.S. citizen in recent years. One of the most versatile drummers around, Kendall is much in demand and has recorded or performed with artists like Poncho Sanchez, Cecilia Coleman, Steve Huffstetter, Bob Sheppard, Kenny Burrell, Phil Upchurch, Allan Broadbent, Kyle Eastwood, Mundell Lowe and Rickie Lee Jones. Kendall is also a member of the Ron Eschete Trio.
Bassist Chris Colangelo is a genuine master of the instrument. His tone is deeply resonant with astonishing articulation across the instrument’s sonic register. This is a musician with serious chops … that hard to define, never forgotten lyric quality that separates yeoman time-keepers from bassists with seductive narrative power. Born in Camden, New Jersey, Chris attended Rowan University, majoring in jazz performance. Then a resident of the Philadelphia area, Chris was part of the local jazz scene, with session work throughout the Delaware Valley, including gigs in Atlantic City. After moving to Los Angeles in late ’91, Chris began performing and traveling with heavyweights such as the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Yusef Lateef, Jimmy Cleveland, Alex Acuna, Roy McCurdy, Doc Severinsen, Ernie Watts, Kei Akagi, Les McCann, Richie Cole, Sal Marquez, Joe La Barbera and Peter Erskine among many others.
Joe’s Restaurant is located at 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, CA 90291. Reservations are made by calling 310-399-5811 and are strongly recommended as patio seating is limited. The music begins at 7pm and ends at 11pm. The artists will play three or four sets. There is no cover charge for the music, but dinner orders are required for table seating. Joe’s will give a complimentary glass of wine, with dinner, for 6-7pm reservations. There is valet parking, a paid parking lot, and street parking.