Anita Wardell: My Shining Hour


My Shining Hour


Anita Wardell (vocals)


Until The Stars Fade (Symbol 20010101)

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Anita Wardell (vocals),

Robin Aspland (piano), Jeremy Brown (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)


Composed by Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer


Recorded: London, January 8 & 9, 2001


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Anita Wardell may be the best-kept secret in vocal jazz today. While she has a substantial following in the UK, she is virtually unknown in the United States. Her imported albums are pricey and sometimes difficult to find. But rest assured, she is well worth seeking out! Blessed with a pure straight vocal tone, remarkable agility and boundless imagination, she is not only one of the best scat singers in jazz today, but also a master of vocalese. One of her finest accomplishments is her lyricized version of Lee Morgan’s trumpet solo on “Moanin’” (see the video here), and while her CD version is wonderful, I’ve chosen her up-tempo version of “My Shining Hour” for her marvelous scat solo. Wardell approaches scatting in a purely instrumental manner, and her deep knowledge of chromatic harmony allows her to explore the nooks and crannies within the chord changes. In her three-chorus scat solo, she darts through the chords with ease, creating bop lines that would make an instrumentalist proud. She outlines chords particularly well, her note choices are surprising, and her phrase lengths are quite varied—all elements that are usually missing in scat solos. Her improvisations could—and should—change the way the jazz audience hears and appreciates vocal jazz. All that is necessary is for Anita Wardell to be heard.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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