Sheila Jordan: The Very Thought of You


The Very Thought of You


Sheila Jordan (vocals)


Lost and Found (Muse 5390)

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Sheila Jordan (vocals), Kenny Barron (piano), Harvie S (bass), Ben Riley (drums).

Composed by Ray Noble


Recorded: New York, September 28-29, 1989


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Sheila Jordan will turn 80 on November 18, 2008, and still awaits the kind of recognition she has deserved throughout her long career. Perhaps her unconventional, risk-taking singing style has held her back over the years, although her contemporary and fellow Detroit native Betty Carter, sporting a similarly original approach, managed to finally attract a wide audience in her 50s after years of struggle and neglect. Whatever the case, Jordan, who studied with Lennie Tristano, sat in with Bird, and later recorded with George Russell, has produced one provocative album after another since her classic debut Portrait of Sheila in 1962. Yet for many years, she held down a secretarial day job just to make ends meet.

This version of "The Very Thought of You," which she recorded at the age of 60, finds her definitely in a Betty Carter frame of mind. Beginning with only Swartz's alternately walking and prancing basslines, Jordan elongates words and alters pitches at will. As Barron and Riley chip in, she exudes a girlish charm while at the same time exhibiting an obviously mature control, toying with the rhythm and hitting effectively slurred low notes when least expected. Barron's scampering solo seems inspired by Jordan's compelling quirkiness. The singer next trades masterfully with Riley, her scatting as always highly musical and unaffected. She then reprises the lyrics, sometimes nearly in falsetto to contrast with her richer natural voice. This is a teasing, knowing, unassailable interpretation from start to finish.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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  • 1 Ellen Johnson // Oct 29, 2008 at 06:36 PM
    Hi Scott, Thanks for the lovely review for my dear friend Sheila Jordan. She truly is one of the masters of jazz and doesn't get enough recognition for her contributions for sure! A true innovator and someone who really gave her life for the music of jazz, as she likes to call herself, a messenger for the music. Sheila has a new recording coming out right around her birthday called "Winter Sunshine" with her long time friend, Steve Kuhn on piano. It's a live recording on Justin Time Records and should be a very special release. She has also recorded quite a few CDs prior to that including a bass and voice CD with Cameron Brown called "Celebration" (another live recording) and before that another beautiful CD entitled "Little Song". She and I are working on her biography because her story in her jazz journey is truly remarkable. Last year I recorded a CD "These Days" in tribute to her (I am also a jazz vocalist) mainly in the bass and voice genre that she sings on and dedicated a poem to her with her singing behind it. She also did a wonderful rendition of "Dat Dere" for a compilation CD I produced for a special dedication to mothers "From A Mothers Heart". You can find the last two CDs at http// to hear clips. Below is the poem that she sings to on "These Days": LITTLE MESSENGER (For Sheila Jordan) Little messenger Singing jazz As she passes our way On the wings of blackbirds That blow bebop changes While telling Charlie’s stories Through sagacious Cherokee eyes Not a surprise To watch wood and flesh Inspired by the rhythm of ancient ancestors Calling from the heart of time The phrases of truth Dripping down piano keys Just to please The songbird Who perches on our souls Spreading her seeds of joy And love And hope While God holds her essence In the perpetual palm of his spirit As a gift to humanity. Ellen Johnson © 2004 Long Snows Moon Music Thanks for letting me share this and I hope more singers and people will discover the music of Sheila Jordan. She is one special being. Ellen Johnson