Sheila Jordan loves jazz. Sheila Jordan loves singing. Sheila Jordan really loves jazz singing.
And we feel truly blessed to have spent an evening in the presence of that love.
For those who have not yet discovered the KC Jazz Club, the Kennedy Center’s second story, table for four, light fare, Friday evenings (sometimes Saturday) venue for all things Jazz, then the likes of this Jazz Legend awaits.
Sheila Jordan brought her 70 plus years of scat and soulful conversation to the Club last Friday night and the audience fell in love ten thousand times.
Jordan started the evening with one of her signatures, “Better Than Anything.” Of course, she personalized it with a “better than anything except singing jazz in Washington, DC.”
Grammy winning Alan Broadbent had the piano for the evening: his high concept solos, fingers high kicking on the keys, were just the right partner in soul to Jordan’s conversations.
Joining Jordan and Broadbent was virtuoso bassist Harvie S. During one of their songs together, Jordan told his story: Harvie has never had a music lesson. And one close look at him as he’s, not playing the bass, but being the bass’s intimate other, one understands fully why nothing could be more true. Every time Harvie touches the bass it offers its lessons to him and he fully surrenders.
The centerpiece of the evening began when Jordan gave us her wistful “Autumn in New York.” Standing on the 27th floor, looking out over the “glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel” we are with Jordan in that hotel room. We feel the energy of the city all around.
She followed “New York” with her tribute to her daughter, “Dat Dere,” a gleeful recreation in jazz of a parent’s interaction with a child. That “big elephant over there” will never appear so cuddly again as Jordan brought mother and daughter conversations into gleeful reality.
That’s when Jordan stepped off the stage, leaving it to Broadbent and Harvie S. The two master musicians launched into a fabulous duet made only more incredible by its improvised closing. With Harvie in solo, plucking deep notes off those strings, his whole being seemingly ushering forth the rhythm, a pulsing be-bob kind of “I got to get this done” rhythm, Broadbent entered the fray, not to return Harvie to the composition but to ignite the interchange. The two master musicians then engaged in an energetic musical repartee that ended in crescendo.
There were too many wonderful moments to express them all, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Jordan’s “Sheila’s Blues”, the piece that closed the event.
Autobiography never felt so intimate as Jordan recounts her 14-year-old self returning to Detroit from Pennsylvania coal country to chase the Bird. After being denied entrance into the club, for being too young and too much of a “white girl”, she goes around to the alley and sits on a garbage can. Soon the Bird appears with horn in hand.
And he entreats Sheila to love jazz forever.
And we are now the beneficiaries of Sheila Jordan’s long love affair.
May she bless the stage with that love forever.