Sheila Jordan: Lady Be Good


Lady Be Good


Sheila Jordan (vocals)


Winter Sunshine (Justin Time 233)

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Sheila Jordan (vocals),

Steve Amirault (piano), Kieran Overs (bass), André White (drums)


Composed by George & Ira Gershwin


Recorded: Live at Upstairs, Montreal, February 15-16, 2008


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

Sheila Jordan, who is celebrating her 80th birthday on the day I am writing this review, frequently apologizes for her "senior moments" during the course of her live recording in Montreal Winter Sunshine. But there is more sunshine than winter in Jordan's music these days. Except for an occasional note-bending exercise that seems to hover precariously outside of consonance, her phrasing is supple and inventive; if anything she sings with more relaxation here than she did back in the day. Her version of "Lady Be Good" is a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, who put an ineradicable stamp on this tune, but Jordan feels no compulsion to imitate the First Lady of Song. She takes Gershwin's warhorse at a very slow tempo—a real departure for this standard, which usually is played with a brisk, swinging pulse. Along the way, she tells about Ella, and throws in some bits of her own personal history. Mid-song she insists that she won't try to scat like Fitzgerald, but instead she scats like Sheila Jordan, and with such winsome charm that no one in the audience has any right to complain. This lady be great . . . and it is heartening to see her finally getting some of the honors (most recently a lifetime achievement award at an star-studded event at the Kennedy Center this past May) that have long been her due.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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