Vocalist Alexis Cole is an accomplished jazz performer with a sophisticated, urbane style and warm, resonant voice, well suited to traditional standards and swing. Cole has performed with the likes of Rufus Reid, Slide Hampton, Ron Affif, John Hébert, and Norma Winstone. Although based in N.Y.C., she has played and taught in locales worldwide, including teaching at an affiliate of the Berklee College of Music in Ecuador and as a faculty member in the jazz voice program at SUNY Purchase.
Born in Queens, New York in 1976, Cole grew up in a family with a long history of musical endeavors. Her grandmother on her mother's side, who was a pianist and singer of jazz standards, initially taught Alexis "Pennies from Heaven" and other American popular songs. Her father, also a pianist, singer, and composer, gave her initial piano lessons. Moving with the family to Florida, Cole was a member of the all-county, all-state, and high-school choirs, and attended the New World School of the Arts on a Young Arts Scholarship, graduating in 1994. She did her first professional engagements as a teenager at a hotel in South Beach. Initially enrolling at the University of Miami in their jazz studies program, Cole returned to the New York area, attaining her Bachelor of Music in 1996 at William Patterson University in New Jersey, tutored by Nancy Marano and Todd Coolman.
In 1999, Cole released her independent debut album, Very Early, featuring accompaniment from pianist Harry Pickens. In 2005, Cole returned with her sophomore solo album, Nearer the Sun, with pianist Ben Stivers. The following year, she earned her M.M. from Queens College, and then taught privately at the 92nd Street YMCA in N.Y.C. before becoming a resident instructor at the University of San Francisco, the University of North Carolina, back at Queens College, and eventually at the Berklee School of Music satellite program in Quito, Ecuador. Also around this time, Cole attended the Jazz India Vocal Institute in Mumbai (where she trained in Indian classical singing). She also participated in the Art of Jazz in Toronto, and was the music director of the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church in N.Y.C. from 2004-2006. In 2007, she delivered her third full-length album, Zingaro, which found her shifting from piano accompaniment and working with bassist Jeff Eckels and guitarist Ron Affif. Two years later, she released her first holiday-themed album, The Greatest Gift.
Continuing to reinvestigate American popular standards, she focused on the theme of the innocence of youth for 2010's Someday My Prince Will Come, paid tribute to the late baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams on 2012's I Carry Your Heart, and channeled sultry romanticism for 2013's Close Your Eyes. In 2014, Chesky Records released A Kiss in the Dark, which featured Cole alongside guitarist Saul Rubin, saxophonist/clarinetist Dan Block, bassist Pat O'Leary, and drummer Phil Stewart. A collaboration with guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli titled A Beautiful Friendship followed in 2015, and a year later she made her Billboard jazz chart debut with Dazzling Blue, a tribute to Paul Simon.