Sheila Jordan

Jazz Child

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Making the supposition that she's an acquired taste, those who enjoy Jordan's unique singing will be thrilled with this release. She's reunited with the resourceful pianist Steve Kuhn who she made exceptional recordings with on ECM (Last Year's Waltz and Playground.) Her breathy, hither-come-yon, soulful voice, with an unmistakable Native American inflection and the quick witted, harmonic bebop foundation of her early days continues to earmark Jordan as one of the most important jazz singers of our time. Three cuts feature the artist with fellow vocalist Theo Bleckmann, and their voices mesh well together, especially on the kitschy, fun loving "Oh Henry." Bleckmann sounds bluesy and like a less histrionic Kurt Elling. The rest of the CD finds Jordan's material all over the map, from a vocal version of Don Cherry's "Art Deco," a revision replete with Indian scat of Steve Kuhn's "The Zoo," a take on Abbey Lincoln's "Bird Alone," and Cheryl Pyle's lyrics to Tom Harrell's "Buffalo Wings." All are outstanding examples of Jordan's uncanny ability to make a song all her own. Ballads like "My Ship," "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," and "Everything Happens to Me" are further proof of her total command and love for the American popular song tradition. Precious music making can be difficult to grasp, much less embrace, especially from a populist standpoint. Getting next to Jordan's artistry should not be too difficult for the open minded. For those of you who are fans, you'll treasure this as one of her best efforts yet and a vocal jazz highlight of the year. Others can discover Jordan at the peak of her powers and revel in the deep blue, mysterious tones she conjures like no one else.

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