Longtime Glendale resident Judy Wexler has been around jazz music since her father played hits by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman on his stereo when she was growing up in Los Angeles.
With years of formal training and four successful albums in her repertoire, Wexler and a trio of musicians will perform Thursday at Mambo's Cafe in Glendale as part of the location's long-running series of live shows.
Wexler moved to Glendale in 1991, began performing jazz in 1999 and, just four years ago, discovered Mambo's Cafe when she noticed a Latin jazz group performing there. She showed the owners one of her albums and, in no time, she became the first "straight-ahead" jazz act they ever booked.
"When you find a really good venue that treats musicians well and the audience well, with good lighting and sound — it's something to celebrate and something to build a really nice gig around," Wexler said. Plus, the restaurant is only five minutes from her home.
Wexler will be joined by Sam Hirsh on keys, Anna Butterss on bass and Tina Raymond on drums for two sets — one starting at 8 p.m. and the other at 9:45 p.m.
After spending time in theater and television in L.A., Wexler took her love for jazz to a music school and released her debut album, "Easy on the Heart," in 2005 at the age of 50.
Wexler said the "catalyst" of her jazz career was her dying mother.
"A month before my mother died, she said, 'I know you want to sing, please just get out there and sing — I'll die happy if you do it.' So I did," Wexler said.
She is currently working on her fifth album, which will feature pianist Alan Pasqua. Wexler hopes to release it sometime next year.
Mambos Cafe, located at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Western Avenue, serves traditional Cuban cuisine and has been featured on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," spotlighting its roasted pork.
For reservations or more information, call (818) 545-8613 or visit mambosla.com.