Sheila Jordan has stamped her class as a jazz singer over a career that has spanned 60 years. She has an articulate sense of phrasing and rhythm and she can ad lib at the turn of a note, but it is the emotion she draws out of a lyric that makes her standout. Jordan proves her calibre all over again with Winter Sunshine a CD she recorded live at Upstairs, a jazz club in Montreal, in February 2008.
The selection of well-honed standards and originals are prime material. Jordan embodies the words of a song and brings a sense of belonging to her singing. The intimacy, her lively interaction with the audience, and an empathic band of excellent musicians makes the concert an endearing experience.
Jordan's voice has an elegant arching grace that finds its beckoning right off on "Comes Love." Her agile sense of swing and scatting set the tone as she cuts into the rhythm and ad libs her way into a pulse that has the audience clapping to the beat. She has snared them from the get go and she continues to holds them in the palm of her hand until the last note has curled into the night.
She pays homage to Miles Davis on "Ballad For Miles" recalling the halcyon days when Davis played at the Village Vanguard with Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers, and John Coltrane. She draws Billie Holliday into the narrative and then segues into "It Never Entered My Mind" making the song as compelling as it is heartbreaking.
Her medley of "All God's Chillun' Got Rhythm/Little Willie Leaps" is another winner. The blues seep into the first before the tempo opens up for the second. She bops along and scats with vivacity and infuses the story of how the lyrics came to be written. Her scatting at the end turns this into a top notch performance. And something would be amiss if the band was not commended. Steve Amirault runs up scintillating ideas on the piano with Keiran Overs on bass and Andre White on drums adding a coruscating rhythm.
Jordan continues to be at the top of her game and coming as it does at this time of the year, her Winter Sunshine is most welcome.
Personnel: Sheila Jordan: vocals; Steve Amirault: piano; Kieran Overs: bass; Andre White: drums.