Monday, September 17, 2018


Sheila Jordan
It’s a shame the legendary jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan only performs in Detroit every decade or so. When Jordan gets booked in her hometown, however, you can bank on a memorable show. Sunday evening Jordan played two sets at the Willis Show Bar thanks to fellow jazz vocalist Joan Belgrave, who thought it worthwhile to bring Jordan back to Detroit for a two-night run. Belgrave opened for Jordan, and she got the full house sufficiently hyped for Jordan hour-plus set. Jordan is 89 and she still has an excellent voice Plus, she hasn't lost one bit of her stagecraft. She began the 7:00 pm set with “How Deep is the Ocean,” wasting no time wrapping her voice around the audience like an anniversary gift. Jordan was backed by a tight rhythm section bassist Marion Hayden, drummer David Taylor, and pianist Mike Jellick, who Jordan had a ball flirting with throughout the set. Hayden, Taylor, and Jellick aren’t Jordan traveling band, but they played as if they’ve been with the vocalist for years. They performed mostly standards such as “If I Had You,” and “The Touch of Your Kiss,” “Autumn in New York,” and “I Got Rhythm.” There was a goose bump inducing version of Abbey Lincoln’s “Bird Alone.” Jordan dazzled the audience even more with her original “Workshop Blues,” which she encouraged audience participation. For decades now, Jordan’s hallmark has been infusing herself into whatever song she’s singing. It’s her unique brand of improvisation, telling stories in the middle of songs as if the melodies trigger distinct recollections. That’s what the audience enjoyed for nearly two-hours Sunday evening. Jordan kept the scatting to a minimum thankfully. At this late leg of her storied career, Jordan still knows how to work the shit out a song and a crowd, too. As for the Willis Show Bar, it proved to be the perfect venue to showcase such a beautifully seasoned voice. Let’s pray it won’t be another decade before Jordan returns home.

No comments: