Vocalists Sheila Jordan and Annie Ross, veteran contemporaries separated in age by just over a year, are masters of vocalese with new CDs to prove it.
Celebration: Live at Triad
Jordan celebrated her 76th birthday last November by recording a performance at New York's upper West Side club, The Triad. Accompanied solely by Cameron Brown's solid bass lines, Jordan successfully swoops and flits around the melodies of a diverse collection of material, starting off with Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Humdrum Blues and an up-tempo version of Ellington's "Mood Indigo . In addition to Abbey Lincoln and Mal Waldron's "Straight Ahead , rendered moodily as befits the lyrics, Jordan put together three different medleys. The first, a blues medley for Miles Davis, consists of "Blue Skies , "All Blues and "Freddie the Freeloader , the latter sung in vocalese as well as scat. The Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers medley is comprised of the swinging and familiar "Let's Face the Music and Dance , "Cheek to Cheek , "I Won't Dance , "I Could Have Danced All Night and "Pick Yourself Up . And the last medley, titled "Fats Meets Bird and including "Honeysuckle Rose , "Ain't Misbehavin' and "Scrapple From The Apple , is handled lightly with alternating vocal and bass solos. As a special guest, singer Jay Clayton joined the two on stage for a rendition of Gillespie's "Birk's Works , scatted by both singers who solo and playfully sing together. The memorable evening closed with two Jordan originals: "Sheila's Blues and "The Crossing . Jordan's small and quirky voice covers a lot of ground and she and Brown read each other like a book, working hand in hand with a sense of humor and joy.
Let Me Sing
Annie Ross is, indeed, a diva. The voice is now smoky and husky and low in range, but the feeling and interpretation are strong as ever. Accompanied by piano (Tardo Hammer), bass (Neal Miner) and drums (Jimmy Wormworth), she adds Bucky Pizzarelli's magical guitar and Warren Vaché's punctuating solos and fills on trumpet. The group evidently all got together over a period of two nights to put this offering together using only head arrangements, much of the material being featured weekly at Danny's Skylight Room through the end of the year.
The standards Ross selected are some of the best: two Gershwin songs, "Embraceable You and "Isn't It A Pity are sung with their respective verses, as is Mercer/Arlen's "Accentuate The Positive . She pairs Victor Herbert's "Kiss Me Again with "Indian Summer (on which Vaché delivers a sensitive solo) and Rodgers & Hart's "Nobody's Heart - sung a capella - with Dietz/Schwartz' "By Myself . "Fun To Be Fooled , "Day In Day Out , "I've Told Every Little Star , "Just Friends and "I Thought About You are all swinging finger snappers and the last track, Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life (sung out of tempo), is just Ross and Pizzarelli. The lady is a spellbinder.
Tracks: 1 Introductory Remarks by Sheila Jordan Jordan, Cameron Brown 0:35; 2 Humdrum Blues Brown 3:04; 3 Mood Indigo Bigard, Ellington, Mills 4:01; 4 It's You or No One Cahn, Styne 5:19; 5 Commentary Jordan, Cameron Brown 0:08; 6 Brother Where Are You? Brown 5:37; 7 Blues Medley for Miles/Blue Skies/All Blues/Freddie Freeloader Berlin, Davis 10:10; 8 The Promise of You Lins, Linx 4:51; 9 Commentary Jordan, Cameron Brown 0:04; 10 Astaire/Rodgers Medley/Let's Face the Music and Dance/Cheek to Cheek/I Berlin, Fields, Hammerstein ... 7:23; 11 Commentary Jordan, Cameron Brown 0:08; 12 Straight Ahead Baker, Lincoln, Waldron 5:10; 13 Fats Meets Bird Medley/Honeysuckle Rose/Ain't Misbehavin'/Scrapple from Brooks, Parker, Razaf, Waller 9:44; 14 Introducing Jay Clayton Jordan, Cameron Brown 0:20; 15 Birk's Works Gillespie 6:48; 16 Shelia's Blues Jordan 3:07; 17 Commentary Jordan, Cameron Brown 0:15; 18 The Crossing Jordan 4:41
Personnel: Sheila Jordan: vocals; Cameron Brown: bass
Let Me Sing
Tracks: Fun To Be Fooled; Accentuate The Positive; Day In Day Out; Kiss Me Again and Indian Summer; Nobody's Heart and By Myself; Embraceable You; I told Every Little Star; Alone Together; Isn't It A Pity; Just Friends; Speak Low; A Nightingale Sang In Barkley Square; I Thought About You; Lush Life
Personnel: Annie Ross: Vocals; Neal Miner: Bass; Tardo Hammer: Piano; Jimmy Wormworth: Drums; Bucky Pizzarelli: Guitar; Warren Vache: Trumpet