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10

Sheila Jordan: Charlie Parker, Now's The Time

William Ellis By

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Sheila Jordan: At home, New York City, 11th February 2014

"This is the first jazz recording I ever heard, it's not even bebop! It's a rebopper! Charlie Parker's Reboppers.

"There's a whole story behind this record. Charlie Parker alto, Miles Davis, trumpet, Curley Russell, bass and who's on piano? Hen Gates: that was Dizzy [Gillespie]—he couldn't give his real name —and Max Roach on drums. So on the other side is "Billie's Bounce" -same personnel.

"I always sang as a little kid, I never knew what kind of music I wanted to sing and then after I moved back to Detroit to be with my mother and go to high school, there was a jukebox downstairs from my school. I was always playing music there, you know, putting nickels in. So I knew most of the artists and their songs that made them famous, not that I was tired of hearing but I was looking for something else and I saw this. I saw this and I said "Oh—Charlie Parker and His ReBoppers, I wonder what that is?"

"So I put my nickel in—four or five notes and I thought: 'Oh my God, this is the music I'll dedicate my life to. Whether I sing it, teach it, support it—whatever, it doesn't matter, I'll just dedicate my life to that music.'

"I'd finally found the music that I wanted to do where I felt I could get into and really mean it. And I'll tell you, I got goose bumps when I first heard the first four notes, I was like whoa—it was almost like being elevated, you know. That was "Now's The Time."

"There's a story about this record that's so beautifully framed. I was doing a concert maybe two summers ago and there was a wonderful poet on before us named Billy Collins. He recited his poetry and afterwards it was going to be me and Cameron Brown the bassist -that's a duo I have. I've been doing bass and voice since the fifties. I'm the originator of bass and voice—not to brag—but to say 'hey,' to singers and bass players 'you know can do music this way too.' And there are people doing it now, which is great.

"This was an outdoor concert and so we were in this big house where we got dressed, got ready and relaxed until we went on. It was just Billy Collins reciting his poetry and me and Cam. So my friend Peter -this drummer and a wonderful artist, he knows I'm a Bird freak and he draws all kinds of birds. They're beautiful. He sends them to me or gives them to me. It was Peter, I said 'Peter it's good to see you man.' He said 'Yeah I have a present for you.' I said 'Really? What is it?' He said 'Yeah, open it up.'

"And so I opened it up—it was this, all framed beautifully. I got so emotional and I thought oh my God, I don't think I can go up there and sing right now! But I waited a few minutes, I hugged him and kissed him and thanked him. I said 'Oh my God, this is the most wonderful gift I've ever been given -except of course the music and my daughter (laughs).' So that's the story of that record."

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