Jordan + Sheila Jordan with Brian Kellock Trio
and Tori String Quartet
@ the Queen Elizabeth Hall & the PizzaExpress Jazz Club
13 November 2012 - 7 October 2010
Click an image to enlarge.
Desert Island Discs
Which 2 albums would you take with you to a
Charlie Parker – (any album)
Miles Davis – Sketches Of Spain
Born Sheila Jeanette Dawson, November 18 1928,
Detroit Michigan, USA, raised in poverty in Pennsylvania’s
coal-mining country, Jordan began singing as a child and by the
time she was in her early teens was working semi-professionally
in Detroit clubs. Her first great influence was Charlie Parker and,
indeed, most of her influences have been instrumentalists rather
than singers. Working chiefly with black musicians, she met with
disapproval from the white community but persisted with her career.
She was a member of a vocal trio, Skeeter, Mitch And Jean (she was
Jean), who sang versions of Parker’s solos in a manner akin
to that of the later Lambert, Hendricks And Ross.
After moving to New York in the early 50s, she
married Parker's pianist, Duke Jordan, and studied with Lennie Tristano,
but it was not until the early 60s that she made her first recordings.
One of these was under her own name, the other was “The Outer
View” with George Russell, which featured a famous 10-minute
version of “You Are My Sunshine”.
In the mid-60s her work encompassed jazz liturgies
sung in churches and extensive club work, but her appeal was narrow
even within the confines of jazz. By the late 70s jazz audiences
had begun to understand her uncompromising style a little more and
her popularity increased - as did her appearances on record, which
included albums with pianist Steve Kuhn, whose quartet she joined,
and an album, Home, comprising a selection of Robert Creeley’s
poems set to music and arranged by Steve Swallow.
A 1983 duo set with bassist Harvie Swartz, “Old
Time Feeling”, comprises several of the standards Jordan regularly
features in her live repertoire, while 1990’s “Lost
And Found” pays tribute to her bebop roots. Both sets display
her unique musical trademarks, such as the frequent and unexpected
sweeping changes of pitch, which still tend to confound an uninitiated
audience. Her preference to the bass and voice set led to another
remarkable collaboration with bassist Cameron Brown, whom she has
been performing with all over the world for more than ten years
so far and they have released the live albums.“I’ve
Grown Accustomed to the Bass” and “Celebration”.
Entirely non-derivative, Jordan is one of only a tiny handful of
jazz singers who fully deserve the appellation and for whom no other
term will do.”