Sheila Landis


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Sheila Landis (according to her liner notes) has been a fixture on the Detroit jazz scene since 1973 and Jazzscapes is her ninth release on her SheLan label so why isn't she better-known? On this set Landis covers a wide range of material and styles. Several of the tracks are R&Bish throwaways (a dull funk version of "When I Fall in Love" is difficult to sit through, "My Funny Valentine" sounds like a soul tune and "The Other Side of Midnight" borders on rock), but there are also some very memorable performances. Highpoints include a hard-swinging rendition of Lee Morgan's "Speedball," the Afro-Cuban treatment of "Who Will Buy?" and a powerful version of "Blues in the Night" on which Landis is accompanied only by the sparse guitar of Rick Matle yet sounds quite confident. Throughout this generally enjoyable CD the backup musicians (which include keyboardist Gary Schunk, trumpeter Paul Finkbeiner and Scott Petersen on reeds) are fine local players. The obviously talented Sheila Landis has a wide range and a distinctive voice that grows on listeners. She knows her jazz, improvising all the way, and can certainly sing even if she seems to find it necessary to water down her program with a few commercial tracks.