Jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan is the most arresting of creatures. While she writes a great deal of her own material, she employs standards and other covers as a way of involving the considerable soloists in her various bands as principals. She also reaches out to other musicians, inviting them to participate in gigs and to add to the rich, warm tapestry her singing and swinging creates. This disc is the fruit of an Italian tour with backing by that country's truly great E.S.P. Trio and a session with the Modern Ensemble, a string quartet. Jordan's dream has been to record with a chamber group and here it was realized during a busy tour in front of a live audience. In typical Jordan fashion, the proceedings here are elegant, lush, in the pocket, and full of surprises -- like her sudden scatting in the middle of her own lyric for Don Cherry's "Art Deco." Other highlights include a stirring, heartbreaking rendition of "The Water Is Wide," with the trio being joined by the Modern Ensemble. Here, Jordan's enormous heart is exposed, raw and bleeding, full of passion for the simplest of melodies. She offers that heart in service to the song as Roberto Cipelli's piano glances through the changes and the strings slowly enter the body of the lyric. The listener can feel her mind, body, and soul being drawn into the center of the music and her voice rising to meet the well of emotion that grows with every chorus. It's a miracle that the set doesn't end right here, but then, that's Jordan. She can take an audience to a fever pitch, leaving every eye in the house full of tears and joy, overwhelmed by beauty -- and still deliver more. She does so here with Gershwin and Monk (together), Brown and Timmons, and the lovely ballad "Lazy Afternoon." This album is more than a treat; it's a testament to a great singer who strives ever more to serve jazz in any way she can. This is a truly wonderful album.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek