Sheila Jordan: Believe in Jazz

Guest Post By: Brendan

Believe in Spring, believe in love, believe in you, believe in Jazz.” So concludes the tour the force that is Believe in Jazz by Sheila Jordan. Recorded in Switzerland in 2003 during her 75th birthday tour, the album features one hour of great music.

The cornerstone of the set is a ten-minute track incorporating a Native American chant, a cover of “Blackbird” and the wordless wonder “Reel Time.”

A friend of Charlie Parker, Jordan ‘s version of Abbey Lincoln’s “Bird Alone” is an intimate affair. Another highlight of the album is “Everything Happens to Me” on which the lyric is ingeniously updated from “sent an airmail special too” to “sent an email too.”

Jordan has fun on “Where You At” (not a Jennifer Hudson cover!), during which she deviates from the theme to express her love of Swiss chocolate in song, and then sings introductions to her band members – Serge Forté on piano, Gary Brunton on bass, and Karl Jannuska on drums. Each member has a chance to shine on a twelve-minute “The Touch of Your Lips.”


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Sheila Jordan Official Site

Sheila Jordan: Yesterdays

Guest Post By: Brendan

I’ve considered myself a jazz fan for nearly a decade, but somehow I’d never heard of Sheila Jordan. This week I have happily rectified this egregious error by listening to her 1990 concert recording, Yesterdays. Yesterdays combines the singular musical talent of Sheila Jordan with the expert accompaniment of bassist Harvie S, a frequent collaborator of Sheila’s. Sheila Jordan doesn’t just perform a song – she inhabits and rebuilds it.

Sheila’s mastery of the art is so astounding that formerly familiar songs are born anew under her tutelage. I’ve collected many versions of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” over the years, but I feel like I’ve never really heard the song until now. Jordan’s sparse construction of the song put me in mind of James Joyce’s description of Michael Furey in The Dead: “Such eyes as he had: big, dark eyes! And such an expression in them — an expression!

Another remarkable moment on the disc occurs towards the end of Sheila’s gorgeous texturing of Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought Of You.” Sheila interjects a playful response to a critic who had pointed out her lack of attachment to the melody on a previous iteration of the song.

Like all the best jazz vocalists, Sheila Jordan uses her voice as an instrument, complete with scatting and wordless vocalizations. This album won’t work as background music – it demands and deserves your attention.

Sheila Jordan performed with Charles Mingus and Charlie Parker in the 1950s, continues to work today and was honored as an NEA 2012 Jazz Master.

Yesterdays is a 2012 Highnote Records release with liner notes by Kirk Silsbee.


Track Listing:
Better Than Anything
The Very Thought of You
You Don’t Know What Love Is
Fats Waller Medley: Honeysuckle Rose/ Ain’t Misbehavin’
Mood Indigo
Waltz for Debby (Lazy Day)
I Concentrate on You
Lazy Afternoon
Blue Skies
Fred Astaire Medley: Let’s Face the Music & Dance/ Cheek to Cheek/ I Could Have Danced All Night

Sheila Jordan Official Site