Sam Bevan, Mara Fox, Vince Mansel, Braulio Barrera, Carlos Caro, Colin Douglas, Steffen Kuehn and Jonathan Alford join Grammy-nominated vocalist Alexa Weber Morales in performing originals from her latest album, which was fan-funded on Kickstarter. Tickets for the 7 pm show on Sunday, December 18 are $15, or $25 including CD. Special guests include Brazilian jazz pianist Annie Sajdera and gorgeous Oakland soul singer Terrie Odabi. Yoshi’s is an all-ages venue.
Founded in 1973, Yoshi’s has become one of the world’s most respected jazz venues and won a reputation as the Bay Area’s premier location for Japanese food and jazz. Yoshi’s has hosted legends such as Betty Carter, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Harry Connick Jr. and Oscar Peterson among hundreds of others. The location in Jack London Square is perfect for a venue steeped in Oakland soul and the Bay Area’s relaxed refinement.
I Wanna Work For You is Alexa’s first all-original album. It melds funk, jazz, Brazilian and salsa grooves; the theme is the search for work, for purpose, for justice, for love, for anything real in an artificial world. The 10 tunes on I Wanna Work for You ruminate on a hole in the ocean and naked grabs for power, misguided love affairs and tired marriages, stratospheric self-actualization and gender-bent blues.
“My concept doesn’t come from sitting in some sweet-ass studio, it’s from being in the trenches making mistakes,” says I Wanna Work For You associate producer Sam Bevan, an accomplished bassist and Oakland native who arranged the tunes and played acoustic and electric bass, keyboards and guitar on the album.
Alexa received funds from 90 backers on Kickstarter to finance her third solo effort. Previous albums were produced by multi-Grammy-nominee Wayne Wallace, for whom Alexa contributed original lyrics and lead vocals on The Reckless Search for Beauty. Alexa performs with other bands including the rising phenomenon known as Pacific Mambo Orchestra, a one-year-old, 19-piece salsa band that plays Monday nights at Cafe Cocomo in San Francisco as well as at Yoshi’s and many festivals.
In April 2011, the singer-songwriter decided to try her luck at fan funding for I Wanna Work For You, choosing the popular Kickstarter.com platform. With three prior solo projects under her belt [produced by 5-time Grammy nominee Wayne Wallace], she knew exactly what she was doing — and what would be different this time.
“We gigged all these tunes out before recording. We called them ‘convertible tunes’ because they sound good with just a quartet or with the full horn and vocal sections.”
She still had no idea if she could raise the thousands she’d need to record and manufacture the album. “While fundraising, I had a sign on my wall that said NEVER GIVE UP. It was hard. I made a lot of phone calls and promises, but in the end I was humbled by the support from fans and friends. Whether it was $1 or $3,000, I was equally grateful.”