Friday, February 24, 2012


Sheila Jordan and Cameron Brown photo by Libby Graham

I had the utmost pleasure of attending an absolutely stellar concert, as part of Nich Anderson’s popular JazzVox house concert series, in Auburn on February 10th featuring NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan.  To see this indomitable vocal jazz veteran cozy up with her long-time bassist Cameron Brown was a sight that won’t soon be replicated.  After all, they originated the “base and face” concept in jazz and totally mesmerized us with their nuanced, heartfelt delivery on such classics as “I’ve grown accustomed to your face” and “It’s you or no one for me”.   Also of note were her fabulous “Freedom for Humanity” interpretation of Martin Luther King’s teachings and a medley of infectious blues standards to close out this extraordinary evening.

Sheila began performing in the storied jazz clubs of Detroit and New York at an early age and was so ingratiated with the bebop scene that she married Charlie Parker’s pianist, Duke Jordan.  She studied the bebop idiom with Lennie Tristano and was known for patterning her vocals after instrumental solos and improvising logical lyrics (which often rhymed).  Sheila thus became one of the few singers to lead her own Blue Note album in 1962 and went on to record with a variety of artists including Steve Kuhn in the late `70s.   Jazz audiences had begun to understand her uncompromising style, and by the `80s, gained the recognition she deserved 20 years earlier.   The rest, as they say, is history, and still very much in the prime of her career, Sheila Jordan tours all over the world, acts as a visiting professor at Stanford, and holds a multitude of incredible seminars and master classes.  In 2012 Sheila received the prestigious NEA Jazz Master award which is the highest honor in jazz and accepted it with her trademark grace and dignity.

Cameron Brown established a name for himself early on, performing and recording with such greats as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Don Pullen, and Archie Shepp.  He first met Sheila Jordan in 1974 and has forged a uniquely special collaboration with her to this day.  Cameron’s specialty has always been the double bass and utilizes his prodigious talent teaching at Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, New York in addition to touring extensively world-wide.  His style is breathtakingly stunning and inventive, providing the perfect accompaniment to Sheila’s starkly honest, emotional lyricism and sweeping, rhythmic tenacity.

To learn more about and stay in contact with these remarkable artists, visit Sheila Jordan’s website at and Cameron Brown’s website at  For more information about the JazzVox vocal jazz house concert series and to make reservations, please visit

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