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Portrait of Sheila

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 25, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Portrait of Sheila by Sheila Jordan

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • Run Time: 65 minutes
  • ASIN: B000005HDW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,853 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. Dorward on August 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Sheila Jordan is one of the most important jazz singers of the last four decades, but you wouldn't know it from the size of her recorded output: always one of the least "commercial" of singers, this album (her first under her own name) is one of the few Jordan albums on a major label. It sets the pattern for much of her later work--it has a cast of stellar musicians (Barry Galbraith on guitar, Steve Swallow on [acoustic] bass, Denzil Best on drums), & on some tracks she strips the band right down to a duo format, presaging Jordan's later series of duets recorded with Harvie Schwartz. Though there are moments here (like the amazing "Let's Face the Music and Dance") where her work verges on the experimentalism of her work with George Russell or Carla Bley, mostly this is a set of intimate & subtly shaded standards.
I remember seeing Jordan in performance; she is an ebullient performer in front of an audience, & the sheer joy she gives off can be sampled here in "Falling in Love with Love" or "Dat Dere". Yet the real show-stopper was an emotional, draining version of "Don't Explain"; she seemed a little self-conscious about it afterwards ("Just goes to show that there's nothing people like more than a good old depressing ballad.")--I get the feeling that that sort of material draws on areas of herself she doesn't want to go into too often. On this disc there are several such moving vehicles for her ballad-readings: I'd single out "When the World Was Young". The voice is fresher than in most of her other discs (it is truly criminal that she was little-recorded until late in her career), but the depth of feeling is already present.
This is a classic vocal disc--one of those vocal discs you could recommend to a friend who "doesn't like jazz singing". It's not as self-consciously musicianly as a Betty Carter disc but is no less intelligent & creative.
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Format: Audio CD
The other reviewers have used up all the superlatives, and they're right. This is a classic of vocal jazz (or ought to be considered so). Sheila's voice at this stage of her career was as fresh and delicate as a rose petal. But don't let the comments about few instrumental solos let you think that the supporting musicians are unimportant. This is a very significant album for all of them. It's probably the most beautiful recording of Steve Swallow's acoustic bass sound (before he left that axe behind to become one of the greatest electric bassists)- "Baltimore Oriole" is one of his essential recordings. It has the utterly superb playing of Barry Galbraith, a master of guitar effects and a brilliant accompanist. And it has Denzil Best, one of the legendary and unsung bebop drummers, in a rare high fidelity recording.
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Format: Audio CD
An old girlfriend of mine, upon hearing this album, said it sounded like a woman singing to herself in her kitchen. I haven't come up with a better description since. There's an intimacy, an innocence to Sheila's singing here that is enthralling. Sheila went on to record some masterful albums -- 1977's Sheila and 1989's Lost & Found being among the best -- but it is with Portrait of Sheila that we discover a singer discovering herself. Her mirth is contagious in "Falling in Love with Love," her wistful remembrances in "When the World Was Young" enter the listener's heart like a sigh, and her sorrows are laid out in all their blue beauty in "I'm a Fool to Want You," the loveliest version of this song I have ever heard. This is an essential album for any jazz collection.
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By A Customer on April 26, 2000
Format: Audio CD
if you want to find a clear voice in jazz, please look for Sheila. This album of the 60's will change your mind in jazz singing. Powerful & swinging freely across the music. Genius!
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Format: Audio CD
This is the only Jordan album I own, and I know it's her first. Sheila's performances here are absolutely amazing. She can swing with the best of them,and she can charm you senseless on her ballads. She has a way of personalizing a melody, with her very personal vocal colorings, which never sound like vocal "pyrotechnics" at all. Sounds like pure emotion coming through her voice, that's what it is. On some songs she employs only bass and drums, on others solo guitar, and this shows her thirst for experimentation, and also, her fearlessnes in performing without the usual chordal accompaniment of the piano or guitar. I know she later went with the voice/bass duo in full force - that takes guts, period.

One little, little gripe, though. There are basically no solos at all on this album. Maybe it's just a musicians' point of view, but just a chorus for a guitar, or bass solo on at least several songs would have been extremely welcome. But, her vocal performance is so strong, that this minor detail does not even merit taking out one star. I still think it is a 5-star album. It is fair to say that even though her musicians do not get solo space, the way they support her vocal excursions is exemplary, and beautifully complements her unique style. As it is, the songs are very short, and to-the-point. So short, in fact, that you are left wanting more. A powerful and evocative album that left no doubt that a new, unique talent had arrived.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like so many folks , I've been waiting a LONG time for this magnificent vocal , guitar(s) , acoustic bass and drum session to become affordable once again .
Once upon a time , i owned this remarkable recording . We parted company owing to the fact that my judgement was most poor and i was impulsive (no pun intended) .
There's four stars here :
Barry Galbraith (electric and acoustic guitars)
Steve Swallow (acoustic bass)
Denzil Best (drums) and the extrodinary
Ms. Jordan (vocals)
Recorded in the great state of New Jersey on September 19th and October 12th 1962 , ALL of these artists can be heard at their very best more than 50 years on .
Rather than waste time telling you about this VERY special , intimate and deeply rewarding work of art , i'd rather challenge you to find fault with it .
Astonishing .
Consensus .
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