Saturday, February 27, 2010


I couldn’t tear my ears away from your new album "Heart Plaza". Sheila,I was crazy about it after the first listen. I felt as if I was spellbound by a great poet. I've admired you for many years. I consider you one of the top jazz vocalists working. Sheila, on "Heart Plaza," you took risks, and you succeeded. You sung poems written by some of your favorite poets, and keeping the arrangements simple was smart.

The tricks you did with your voice was cool. On "My Heart Goes Out," for example, transforming your voice into a trombone was slick. I wonder how many jazz vocalists can make their voice sound like a muted trumpet at will like you managed to do on "Bag Lady". "The "Duke, your homage to the great bandleader and composer Duke Ellington, would have made him blush if he were alive to hear it.

You have the perfect musical companion in guitarist Rick Matle, who's soulful, white-collar guitarist. Matle is a sensitive accompanist, and he deserves recognition. The man is just as good as his peers guitarists Pat Metheny, and Bill Frisell. On "Trampled Heart," his playing melted on your voice like butter over hot cakes.

Sheila, I receive albums from jazz vocalists all the time. Most are the same. The vocalists seem afraid to venture. They only offer albums loaded with familiar oldies. I don't understand their reluctance to perform new material. You aren't afraid to shake things up, and I commend you for that. Sheila,"Heart Plaza is a wonderful spoken word jazz album.
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