Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend with Sheila

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As in the legendary Sheila Jordan - jazz vocalist extraordinaire and incredible workshop leader...it was wonderful hearing her and the wonderful Yvette Tollar last night at Gallery 345 - a story in itself - a great venue on Sorauren just south of Dundas and owned and operated by the very witty Edward Epstein. I should mention that Yvette did an incredible job of bringing the weekend together...thank you!

Sheila and Yvette were backed by the always phenomenal Dave Restivo on piano and Kieran Overs on bass - and for a special treat - Jane Bunnett appeared and graced us with a great soprano solo...Sheila reminded us how many wonderful musicians we have in our "backyard" - or as Jane said - just down the street - litterally in her case!

After worrying and fretting about the workshop for days and days I have to tell you I did get through it - it was kind of a blur - many many thanks to Dave for his musicianship and graceful dealing with all the different singer requests...I had a couple of false starts - before I got into "I Don't Know Enough About You" - of course, I did Peggy Lee! Duh. I felt most comfortable with that...still I don't remember much about the feedback - I know it was easier the second time through - lower pitch and slower tempo - not sure if Sheila liked my voice or not..I guess she didn't NOT like it..oh well...I confess I was a little deflated by this later as she told a number of other singers they had lovely voices..

I guess I need to give myself credit for getting up there and doing it in the first place....I know I would have regretted it if I hadn't...I just didn't feel ready to participate in the concert of students at night...I suppose this should give me inspiration to get to GNO sometime soon...armed with my new knowledge...

I got a lot out of the workshop - about giving cues to musicians - talking out the tune, or was that down? Instructing about how many "choruses" - i.e. jazz language for verses, "tags" or repeats, counting out tempo...etc. All this delivered with Sheila's enthusiasm, love, and humour - plus her amazing sense of what tweaking would be perfect for each tune - and boy, she is always right!

Among the highlights a very inspiring and tear producing blind and hearing impaired woman who sang Stephen Sondheim's "Sooner or Later" and after Sheila's praise as her to gift and expressiveness said "We are all special"...cue the waterworks - at least for me and my neighbour Rita Chiarelli. Then the gorgeous, mature  and unique voice of Alison Long - hope I'm spelling that right - half-sister of Yvette and former Humber student - now at OCAD - she did "It Never Entered My Mind" - and blew us all away - please keep singing Alison!!

I'm always amazed at the variety of singers - ages ranges, backgrounds, sexes - the great marker of any creative endeavour is always how individual we all are - never forget it. Oh and the big 3 - hearing, heart and time (rhythm). Bless you Sheila Jordan for all you do.

One last photo - this is Sam - "I Thought About You" - I seem to remember hearing Sam before at the Rex - he is silky smooth...wow!

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