…The intimacy and ease of the performance cannot fail to captivate the listener.

Cellar Live CMSLF002

Sheila Jordan (voice); Alan Broadbent (piano); Harvie S – bass
Recorded October 25th, 2021

Recorded live at Mezzrow’s club and issued as part of a series of recordings under the auspices of SmallsLIVE Living Masters Series documenting the work of musicians who have spent a lifetime in jazz. Other artists to be feature include Kirk Lightsey, Dave Liebman and George Cole among others.

The funding for these valuable recording was initiated during the pandemic and the enforced lockdown that closed the doors on the jazz clubs. The SmallsLIVE Foundation, a non-profit organisation worked to raise funds to keep the clubs alive. So successful was the campaign and donations that they raised more than was needed and the additional funds were invested in Living Masters recordings.

Sheila Jordan is a more than worthy recipient of such a ‘part lifetime achievement’ award and has lived the jazz life to the full. Her association with Charlie Parker and dedication to the bebop idiom is the stuff of legends, and the legend continues with Jordan still active and recording on a regular basis.

That she does so with such panache and passion makes this live recording an essential document in a varied and extensive discography. Working with two musical associates with who she has had close ties throughout her career has created an intimate setting for Jordan, and one where she obviously feels at home and relaxed.

Alan Broadbent is an extraordinarily gifted pianist, composer and arranger and is a regular accompanist for Sheila on many of her gigs. He must also take credit for one of the singers most beautiful albums, Heart Strings, for which Broadbent arranged a string quartet for Sheila in a setting that is sheer magic.

Bassist Harvie S is another long standing friend and musical partner with who the singer formed a bass/vocal duo that recorded several acclaimed albums and performed countless concerts.

This coming together of musical friends, along with a small but appreciative audience, creates an evening of exquisite music making. Songs that have been sung and played many times sound fresh and new, and the intimacy and ease of the performance cannot fail to captivate the listener.

As one would expect from Sheila, the music is far ranging from ‘The Touch of Your Lips’ with some wonderful vocalising, and the delicate fragility of ‘Look For The Silver Lining’. Listen to the pianist’s accompaniment here as Broadbent’s playing does just enough to support the lyric and emotional content of the song while also having something of his own to say.

Sheila swings hard and with an air of confidence on ‘Falling In Love With Love’, and another great scat chorus to boot. Her empathy with and trust in the full tone and sure time of bassist Harvie S can clearly be heard and makes the track a joy. The bassist’s lovely tone is again heard to fine effect on his arco playing on ‘Autumn In New York’, and another wonderous interpretation by Sheila.

Acknowledging her roots in the music, Sheila gives us another reading of ‘The Bird & Confirmation’ with the latter featuring the lyrics written by her early collaborators, Skeeter Spight and Leroi Mitchell.

Alan Broadbent and Harvie S get a couple of duets during proceedings, and a good as ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’ and a delightful ‘Blue In Green’ are, this is Sheila’s gig and quite rightly she steals the show.

Reviewed by Nick Lea as part of our Sheila Jordan 94th birthday celebration