When pianist, vocalist and composer Ashley Wey opened for the great Lisa Fischer (of Rolling Stones and 20 Feet From Stardom fame) in Wey’s hometown of Victoria in 2018, she wrote a song for the occasion, inspired and actually titled by Fischer! Thus, Hummingbird became the name of both the album and title track of Wey’s most recent release. It’s also her first to feature mostly original music (written over a 15-year period).
Wey is an “uncategorisable” artist who, while firmly grounded in the jazz tradition, is equally at home in the worlds of alternative folk and indie pop – “genre-blending,” rather than genre-bending. I had the pleasure of hearing Wey perform live in Victoria this past spring, at Superior Jazz, a project by Victoria-based jazz vocalist, Heather Ferguson (whose debut album I reviewed in the Feb/Mar 2023 WholeNote). Wey impressed me with her versatility, generosity, energy and playfulness, qualities, along with some of that genre-blending, apparent throughout the album.
An overriding feeling of expansiveness repeatedly came up for me in listening to Hummingbird. It’s there, in abundance, in the title track, as well as in other instrumental tracks, Sterioso, Initially and Finally and Destiny – a lovely, fluid, Metheny-esque expansiveness that I found beautifully compelling.
Along with her solid piano work were Wey’s breezily playful vocals on that old nugget, Just Squeeze Me. I could “hear” her smiling!
Joining Wey are her longtime trio collaborators, Louis Rudner on bass and drummer Nicholas Bracewell, both masterful. Hummingbird will indeed leave you humming.