Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - Nicholas F. Mondello
With Yesterdays, singer Sheila Jordan yet again proves she can take a worn-to-a-sow's-ear standard and - voila! - turn it into a diamond-encrusted silk purse. Her partners in that magic are Harvie S and his beautifully resonating double bass - both assisting ever so deftly in the creative conversion.
Offering previously unreleased material from a 1990 live performance, Jordan and S grab onto more than a dozen Great American Songbook warhorses, proving (among other things) that there are additional treasures hidden in these regularly-explored goldmines. The differences in this duo's renditions come from the rare talents of explorers Jordan and S; when these are combined, old gold seems brilliantly new.
Much has been written - and deservedly so - about Jordan and her incredible bop-tinged vocal instrument. Here, with the finesse and balletic skill of a Cirque du Soleil gymnast ("Better Than Anything," "You Don't Know What Love Is"), she embraces her melodies superbly and still provides constant surprises. That's a musical instrument at work. That expected next note or ensuing phrase gets surprising embellishment - register or dynamic alteration. Only the greatest jazz artists - saxophonist Charlie Parker being an example (and a major influence on a young Jordan), along with vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Sara Vaughan - were also blessed with that skill. ... read more...
Personnel: Sheila Jordan (vocals).
Audio Mixer: David Stoller.
Liner Note Author: Kirk Silsbee.
Recording information: 1990.
Honored as an NEA Jazz Master in 2012, Sheila Jordan set the standard for singing with minimal accompaniment. Since 1988, she has made a number of recordings with the backing of bass alone, first utilizing Harvie S (aka Harvie Swartz) and later Cameron Brown. This 2012 release is a previously unissued set from 1990 with Harvie S, their fourth collaboration together to appear on disc. Although Jordan doesn't have a large voice, she has an impeccable instrument, with a potent gift for melody, rhythm, and improvising, backed by a bassist who sublimely provides an equally inventive backdrop without overshadowing her. Jordan's superb setting of "Yesterdays" takes it into new territory, adding a Native American flavor at one point. She showcases Harvie for a couple of choruses in their brilliant interpretation of "Better Than Anything." The emotional impact of her moving take of "You Don't What Love Is" is due in part to her great use of space to increase its dramatic effect, along with Harvie's arco playing in the introduction and deliberate pizzicato backing. Jordan's gift for improvising new lyrics is on display during her riotous medley of Fats Waller songs, combining a rapid-fire "Honeysuckle Rose" and comical, deliberate "Ain't Misbehavin'," with the bassist engaging in a wild avant-gardist arco solo to connect the two pieces. "Lazy Afternoon" is yet another standard that she raises to a new level with her ability to make a well-known song her very own, again adding a Native American-like chant. There's never a dull moment in this lively set, as Sheila Jordan and Harvie S captivate their audience throughout the entire evening. ~ Ken Dryden
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