music clip of the day


Tag: Sheila Jordan

Monday, May 27th

sounds of Chicago

Sheila Jordan (1928-) & Paul Marinaro (1973-), “Comes Love” (S. Stept, L. Brown, C. Tobias), live, Chicago, 2018




random sights

this morning, Chicago (Columbus Park)

Monday, 1/23/12

Yesterday we left off in 1977; let’s fast-forward 33 years.

Von Freeman (tenor saxophone), with Mike Allemana (guitar), Matt Ferguson (bass), Michael Raynor (drums); “Lester Leaps In,” live, Chicago (New Apartment Lounge, 75th St.), 2010 



This year, as I’ve mentioned before, Von was awarded, along with bassist Charlie Haden, singer Sheila Jordan, trumpeter Jimmy Owens, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, an NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) Jazz Masters Fellowship—“the highest honor that our nation bestows on jazz artists.” Here’s the NEA’s video tribute.

Saturday, 6/25/11

nadir, n. the lowest point.

On July 29, 1946, Charlie Parker was arrested in Los Angeles, after starting a fire in his hotel room. Earlier that day, unable to score heroin, scratchy, drunk on whiskey, he recorded this track, which, depending on your point of view, is either one of the worst records he ever made (Parker’s view) or, despite (because of?) its raggedyness, among the greatest (Charles Mingus’s opinion). After his arrest he was confined, for six months, at Camarillo State Mental Hospital.

Charlie Parker, “Lover Man” (CP, alto saxophone; Howard McGhee, trumpet; Jimmy Bunn, piano; Bob Kesterson, bass; Roy Porter, drums), rec. 7/29/46

More? Here.



rewarding the deserving

So often, it seems, when arts awards are announced, my initial reaction is: “Huh?” Not this time. The National Endowment of the Arts just announced their 2012 Jazz Masters Awards, which recognize, with Lifetime Honors, “living musicians for career-long achievement.” And the winners are Jack DeJohnette, Jimmy Owens, Charlie Haden, Sheila Jordan, and Von Freeman.


reading table

The cafeteria in the hospital’s basement was the saddest place in the world, with its grim neon lights and gray tabletops and the diffuse forboding of those who had stepped away from suffering children to have a grilled cheese sandwich.


The next day, I set up an iPod dock and played music, not only in the willfully delusional belief that music would be good for a painful, recovering brain but also to counter the soul-crushing hospital noise: the beeping of monitors, the wheezing of respirators, the indifferent chatter of nurses in the hallway, the alarm that went off whenever a patient’s condition abruptly worsened.


One early morning, driving to the hospital, I saw a number of able-bodied, energetic runners progressing along Fullerton Avenue toward the sunny lakefront, and I had a strong physical sensation of being in an aquarium: I could see out, the people outside could see me (if they chose to pay attention), but we were living and breathing in entirely different environments.

—Aleksandar Hemon, “The Aquarium: A Child’s Isolating Illness” (behind a paywall), New Yorker, 6/13 & 20/2011

Friday, 1/8/10

Presence, immediacy, feeling: the way his records sound, you’d swear they were nailed in just one take.

What higher compliment could you pay a record producer?

Willie Mitchell (March 23, 1928 – January 5, 2010)


O.V. Wright, “A Nickel and A Nail” (1971)


Ann Peebles, “I Can’t Stand the Rain” (1973)


Syl Johnson, “Take Me To The River” (1975)


Al Green, “Love and Happiness” (1977)




Thank you so much, Richard. . . . Stay well and Happy New Year. Love, Sheila

(Sheila Jordan, 1/6/10, 9/28/09 [in response to an email letting her know she was being featured here])

Wednesday, 1/6/10

Why take a straight path when you can take a crooked one?

Sheila Jordan (with Steve Kuhn, piano; David Finck, bass; Billy Drummond,  drums; Mark Feldman and Barry Finclair, violin; Vincent Lionti, viola;  Harold Birston, cello), “Autumn in New York,” live, 2008, New York (on her 80th birthday)

Monday, 9/28/09

Sheila Jordan has an instantly identifiable sound. But her singing, though idiosyncratic, isn’t just that. Saturday night, when I heard her perform at Chicago’s Green Mill, her musical language—her elastic phrasing, her sliding pitches, her often off-center approach to harmony—was so clear and vivid that, by the end of the second set, I felt as though I was hearing the world through her ears.

Sheila Jordan, “The Water Is Wide,” live, Paris, 2003 (75th birthday concert)



“The main thing is the feeling, and that comes across no matter what she [Sheila Jordan] does. In terms of instruments, maybe her instrument—her voice—is not as great as some. It doesn’t really matter. She sings one note and you know it’s Sheila. Unfortunately there are very, very, very few singers left now who are really unique. And she’s one of the last ones.”—Steve Kuhn


Want more? Here’s a review I wrote, many years ago, of another of Sheila’s performances, also at the Green Mill, for the Chicago Reader.

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