TS008

I've Grown Accustomed To The Bass
Sheila Jordan & Cameron Brown

Sheila Jordan ha cultivado el arte del dúo en muchas ocasiones, pero li sigue haciendo tan bien que merece estar en lo mas alto.
Raúl A. Mao

SHEILA JORDAN and CAMERON BROWN – I’VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO THE BASS

1) Introduction remarks by Sheila Jordan
2) The Very Thought Of You (R. Noble)
3) Better Than Anything (D. Wheat / B. Loughborough)
4) Dat Dere (B. Timmons)
Medley:
5) Mourning Song (attacca) (S. J. Jordan)
6) The Bird / Tribute (Quasimodo) / Embraceable You (attacca) ) (S. J. Jordan – C. Parker / S. J. Jordan – G. & I. Gershwin)
7) Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (C. Mingus)
8) Good Morning Heartache (attacca) (E. Drake / D. Fisher / I. Higginbotham)
9) I Got Rhythm / Listen To Monk (Rhythmning) (G. & I. Gershwin - T. Monk / J. Hendricks)
10) Sheila’s Blues (S. J. Jordan)
11) I’ve Grown Accustomed To The Bass (with a nod to Lerner & Loewe) (A. J. Lerner / F. Loewe)

This recording joint production of HighNote Records New York, NY and Jazz'halo. 

Sheila Jordan : voice
Cameron Brown: double bass

recorded by David Baker during the Jazz’halo Music Days on November 11, 1997 at De Werf Brugge (Belgium)

photography by Jacky Lepage

SOME REVIEWS:

CUADERNOS DE JAZZ N° 62 – LOS MEJORES DISCOS DE 2000
JAZZ VOCAL

1. Jelena Ana Milcetic a.k.a. Helen Merrill Helen Merrill
(Gitanes/Verve) 42 Ptos

2. I’ve Grown Accustomed to the Bass Sheila Jordan/Cameron Brown
(Highnote/Jazz’halo) 40 Ptos

“Sheila Jordan es cantante de cantantes y músico de músicos, su nuevo dúo con bajista parece decir que faceta “experimentadora” no es casual.”
Edward Fuente

“Sheila Jordan ha cultivado el arte del dúo en muchas ocasiones, pero li sigue haciendo tan bien que merece estar en lo mas alto.”
Raúl A. Mao
This CD features a formula that is very close to the heart of this unconventional and uncompromising vocalist: her unique voice with the sole accompaniment of a string bass. This type of duo has already appeared on "Portrait of Sheila" from 1962 - one of the two records by vocalists featured in the Blue Note catalogue at the time the label was run by Alfred Lion. On this CD we find a version of "Dat-Dere" by Bobby Timmons, backed by the string bass of Steve Swallow, a theme which forms part of her standard repertoire and can be found on all her recordings.
Since then we have been able to hear recordings of her in duos with Arild Andersen, Harvie Swartz and the young Cameron Brown, a collaboration which is now therefore being revived a quarter of a century later (very successfully in fact) in "I've Grown Accustomed to the Bass". In the resonant, powerful sound of Cameron Brown's string bass (reminiscent of the master, Mingus) Jordan, who was part of the same scene as Parker, Mingus and the leading black boppers from Detroit and New York and also studied with Tristano, finds the ideal alliance in which to display her vocal inventiveness to the full. In their simplicity and unaffected ness, these numbers, which are hommages to "Bird" (Quasimodo, Embraceable You), to Mingus (the consistently moving "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", dedicated to Lester Young), to Monk (Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" segueing into "Rhythm-a-ning1") and to Billie ("Good Morning Heartache"), create a delightful recording by a singer who exudes "feeling" from every pore and who always dares to take risks. She possesses that rare quality which she shares with Monk, namely the ability to turn imperfections and faults to her own advantage.
F.Garciá Herriáz in Cuadernos de jazz

“Cameron besloot op 11 november 1997 de reeks concerten die hij hier met een door hemzelf samengesteld ensemble, op uitnodiging van Jazz’halo, gegeven had, nl. af te sluiten met een duet met de zangeres uit dat ensemble, Sheila Jordan – op de hoesfoto ziet ze er minstens 25 jaar jonger uit dan de 69 lentes die ze toen telde – (twee cd’s van haar moet u absoluut thuis hebben: ‘Portrait of Sheila’ op Blue Note en ‘One For Junior’ op Muse, hoewel wij toch ook pareltjes als ‘Lost and Found’, ‘Sheila’, ‘Heart Strings’, én nu ook deze ‘I’ve Grown …’ warm aanbevelen) was de zangeres in kwestie en het concert vond plaats in de Brugse Werf. Op deze live-cd is duidelijk te horen hoe deze grote dame erin slaagt om, op ogenschijnlijk eenvoudige manier en met een zelden geziene zelfverzekerdheid, het publiek voor zich te winnen en binnen te loodsen in het universum van haar eigen arrangementen en aanpassingen van het werk van componisten als Gershwin, Charlie Parker (‘The Bird/Tribute/Embraceable You’-medley), Charles Mingus (‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’), Bobby Timmons (‘Dat Dere’) en nog een handvol anderen die u zelf maar moet ontdekken op deze fijne cd. Op een gegeven ogenblik betreedt ze met haar eigen ‘Mourning Song’ zelfs even de paden van native Americans zoals Jim Pepper, Buffy Sainte-Marie en John Trudell.”
Jempi Samyn in “Stage” (Belgium), 15.09.2000

“Formule à haute sensibilité ajoutée, le duo entre la voix humaine et la contrebasse exige, plus que d’autres, un degré de complicité, d’écoute et de vibrations communes qui confinent à l’exception. Ici, le couple musical formé par le contrebassiste Cameron Brown et la chanteuse Sheila Jordan installe, dès le premier morceau, un climat d’intimité et d’introspection qui cédera le pas, en milieu de parcours, aux rythmes plus perturbés du be-bop. En effet, ce concert enregistré en novembre 1997, au club De Werf à Bruges, va ainsi s’accélérer grâce à un medley de près de trente minutes, où la chanteuse rend hommage aux grands noms du bop, parfois d’anciens partenaires : Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk ou encore Lester Young. En bonne ‘native american’, Sheila Jordan compte des ancêtres indiens dans sa lignée. Cette filiation apparaît d’ailleurs avec beaucoup d’à propos dans l’introduction du medley, ‘Mourning Song’, une composition de Jordan, authentique émotion au rendez-vous.’
Philippe Schoonbrood in ‘Le Matin’ (Belgium), 27.10.2000

“I’ve Grown … presents Sheila Jordan in the familiar setting of a duo with only a bass for support. Her partner in the past has been Harvie Swartz but on this live recording Cameron Brown is the lucky accompanist. No real surprises from what she’s recorded before or what you might see her do live. She’s as graceful and liquid as always and does familiar work like ‘Dat Dere’, the autobiographical ‘Sheila’s Blues’ and her Charlie Parker tribute., ‘The Bird’. More than ever she sounds as natural and friendly as if she was talking over old times in your living room, breaking into conversation about alimony payments and her daughter while singing. Brown winds his way around her expertly, listening closely and keeping pace with all her swoops and flights of fancy. This is a lovely, intimate CD, especially recommended if you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Jordan live.”
Jerome Wilson in ‘Cadence’, January 2001

“Het is steekproefgewijs vastgesteld : de naam Sheila Jordan zegt u, jazzkenner of niet, wellicht niets. Sheila Jordan is één van de vergeten jazzdiva’s uit de jaren ’50 en ’60, die in 1962 debuteerde op Blue Note met ‘Portrait Of Sheila’. Hoewel ze op die plaat begeleid werd door een heuse band, liet ze toen reeds verstaan dat ze liever alleen begeleid werd door een contrabassist. De eerste keer gebeurde dat in 1955, toen ze even met niemand minder dan Charles Mingus op het podium stond. In 1997 trad ze op met Cameron Brown, die onder meer met Don Cherry en Archie Shepp werkte, in De Werf in Brugge en de neerslag van dat concert kan u nu aanschaffen. Sheila voorziet de nummers van commentaar en die verhaaltjes en dialoogjes tussenin werken vertederend. Contrabassist Brown speelt erg strak, geeft mooie solo’s maar dringt zich nooit op tegen Jordan in. Leuke nummertjes zijn Bobby Timmons’ ‘Dat Dere’ (met tekst van Oscar Brown Jr.), haar eigen ‘Mourning Song’, ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ van Mingus en het titelnummer (mooie woordspeling trouwens), al valt geen enkel nummer tegen. Zonder meer een sterke cd en een sterke aanrader voor wie dol is op vocale jazz.”
Olivier Verhelst in ‘MuzieKKrant Online’ #031 (Belgium), 29.09.2000

“Hoewel we ons tot de lp- en cd-maniakken rekenen, gaat onze voorkeur toch manifest naar de live-uitvoeringen en dito opnamen. Zo ook dit duet van zangeres Sheila Jordan en bassist Cameron Brown, in ‘De Werf’ te Brugge gerealiseerd op 11 november 1997 tijdens de ‘Jazz’halo Music Days’. Sheila zong al jong vocalisen in een zangersgroep en was aldus een voorloopster van het trio Lambert-Hendricks-Ross. In de jaren vijftig week ze op aanraden van Charlie Parker (op wiens soli ze teksten had geplaatst) uit naar New York, waar ze van 1952 tot 1962 gehuwd was met pianist Duke Jordan. Tot in het begin van de jaren tachtig was ze, hoewel ze tot een ‘musician’s musician’ was uitgegroeid, verplicht een dagdagelijkse job uit te oefenen. Dit belette haar geenszins te studeren met Lennie Tristano en te musiceren met George Russell, Carla Bley, Roswell Rudd en Steve Kuhn. Sinds de jaren zeventig werkt ze graag in duo met bassisten: Arild Andersen (cfr. Hun SteepleChase cd ‘Sheila’, 31081), Harvie Swartz en nu Cameron Brown. Een concert en dus ook een live opname van Sheila Jordan is steeds weer een gebeurtenis. Ze klinkt nu eens zuiver en ruw, dan weer hard en agressief, en uiteindelijk bitter en zacht. Zoals ‘Lady Day’ zingt ze autobiografisch – ze is trouwens een autodidacte – zoals in ‘Sheila’s Blues’ (cfr. ‘Billie’s Blues’). Ingenieus hoe ze een klassieke blues combineert met Charlie Parkers ‘Quasimodo’, dat gebaseerd is op ‘Embraceable You’. Als scatspecialiste vertoont ze verwantschap met haar vroegere stadsgenote (Detroit) Betty Carter. Ze is immers een van de weinige vocalisten, die én muziek én tekst improviseert (‘Better Than Anything’ en ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’) en zich omwille van haar stembeperkingen ‘parlar cantando’ (declamatorisch) op grootse en scheppende wijze uitdrukt. Ze roept tevens reminiscenties op aan King Pleasure, Babs Gonzales en Eddie Jefferson (cfr. Bobby Timmons ‘Dat Dere’). Cameron Brown (1945) werkte o.a. met George Russell, Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, The Jazz Messengers en The Mingus Dynasty. Hij vormt met Sheila – hoewel het wellicht hun eerste gezamenlijk optreden is – een homogeen en naadloos duet. Cameron weeft prachtige obligatosuites achter Sheila, nu eens melodisch en ritmisch stuwend, dan weer contrapuntisch en creatief solistisch. Een cd die een miskende vocale grootheid – zoals bv. Helen Merrill – centraal stelt en aldus getuigt van een hoog niveau.”
Juul Anthonissen in ‘Juul’s halo’ (Belgium), November/December 2000

“Diese Frau besitzt mehr Mut, als ein ganzes Rudel sogenannter ‘Young Lions’ zusammen. Während sich jene in vielen Fällen nur mit der schablonenhaften Kopie bewährter Rezepte an die Öffentlichkeit trauen, geht Sheila Jordan stets das größtmögliche aller Risiken ein. Diesmal setzt sich das mittlerweile 71-jährige Stehaufweibchen mit der mädchenhaften Stimme vor ein Auditorium im Belgischen Brügge und beginnt zu singen. Nackt, ohne den Schutz einer Band. Kein geschmeideges Saxofon, kein perlendes Piano. Nur der Bassist Cameron Brown steht der ewig Vergessenen und Verschmähten bei. So kann die Jordan aus ihrer bewusst herbeigeführten Schwäche mühelos hohe Kunst wachsen lassen. In Wahrheit nämlich ist die scheinbare Verletzlichkeit ihre heimliche Stärke. Sie entblättert jedes Thema mit unprätentiöser Vokalkunst und sanft-beharrlichem Lamento bis zu seinem tiefen, emotionalen Zentrum. Wenn sie sich voller Vertrauen an ihren kongenialen Partner lehnt und dessen warm pulsierende Linien mit horngleicher Phrasierung zusammenflickt, betritt der Jazz plötzlich eine völlig neue Dimension. Live muss der Abend noch magischer als das tönende Dokument gewesen sein.
Musik: gut – sehr gut
Klang: sehr gut”
Reinhard Köchl in ‘Scala’ (Germany), 06/2000

Tom Storer (Citizenjazz.com 11/2002): Vous allez revenir en France le 24 janvier en duo avec le contrebassiste Cameron Brown [dans le cadre du festival Sons d'Hiver]
"C'est un vrai plaisir pour moi de chanter avec Cameron. Travailler uniquement avec une contrebasse, c'est ma formation préférée. Cameron est très respectueux de ma manière de chanter, on s'entend très bien. On avait travaillé ensemble avec Roswell Rudd dans les années 70 et j'ai toujours voulu refaire l'expérience.
Notre CD "Accustomed to the Bass" est un témoignage de notre premier concert ensemble. J'ai dit à Joe [Fields, patron de High Note], "Tiens, écoute-moi ça !" Il m'a répondu, "Si tu l'aimes, c'est que ça va, normalement tu n'aimes jamais tes propres enregistrements !" Je ne fait jamais de réenregistrement, je ne fais rien pour corriger ou améliorer. C'est ce que c'est et c'est tout. Alors cette bande, je l'ai écoutée encore une fois et on l'a sorti. Attention, je ne suis pas du genre à toujours écouter mes propres disques, croyez-moi ! Uniquement quand je prépare les bandes pour un disque, et je dois prendre des décisions pour le mixage. Je me demande, "Qu'est-ce que ça m'apprend ?" Car j'apprends toujours le jazz, à 74 ans. J'espère que j'apprendrai toujours."
(Interview effectuée à Paris en novembre 2002)

“A couple of decades ago, a Sheila Jordan voice-bass duo was a rare event in Britain. Now, it’s almost a must for any self-respecting jazz festival. So it’s illuminating to learn that the first time the singer tried this demanding format was as long ago as 1955 at a club in Toledo, Ohio, when she was invited to sit in by bassist-bandleader – none other than the irascible genius Charles Mingus. Baptism of fear or what? She went on to make this kind of duet her own with (in turn) Steve Swallow, Arild Andersen, Harvie Swartz, and now Cameron Brown. This session, recorded live in Bruges, was actually their first public performance as a duo and so must confirm the remarkable empathy they enjoy. It also confirms jazz (sung in English) as a universal language: for somehow a largely Belgian audience appreciated all the subtle jokes about marriage, alimony etc. that Jordan tossed into this typically witty and spontaneous set.
The most enjoyable section is her medley, a song of praise to the great jazzers she knew and who influenced her, in which she takes massive liberties with rhyme, metre, melody and – quite possibly – fact. There’s a scat sequence when her voice follows the bass to the depths. But at other times, this septuagenarian songstress can trill with, almost, the lilt of a youngster. Her interpretation of Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, the pecan to Prez, segues smoothly into “Heartache” and then the Gershwin-Monk section, concluding in a chorus of scatissimo. Brown’s bass is exemplary throughout, giving a solid frame against which Jordan weaves her vocal fantasies. There are fewer more creative and instantly recognisable voices in jazz and this enjoyable disc throws in a third element, Jordan’s power of rapport with a audience, whatever language it speaks.”
Anthony Troon in Jazz Review (UK) 2003

“Sheila Jordan is one of the most creative, intelligent and original singers that jazz has ever produced. Like Carmen McRae, she has the ability to deconstruct a song harmonically without sacrificing the coherence of a lyric. When she dispenses with words, Ms. Jordan’s scat singing is fluid, inventive and often quite playful.
Her latest recording happily finds Sheila Jordan back in the musical format of which she is the acknowledged master – the bass/voice duo. Her partner on this outing, recorded live in concert in Belgium on November 11, 1997, is the talented bassist Cameron Brown.
Singing with only an acoustic bass is a guaranteed way to expose vocal deficiencies. However, the CD, recorded one week prior to her 69th birthday, finds Ms. Jordan’s voice in remarkable shape and her sense of musical adventure firmly in place. For his part, Mr. Brown plays with impressive technical skill and commanding rhythmic assurance. If he seems to be a bit reserved in some places, it may be because this concert was his first public performance in a voice/bass duo setting.
Ms. Jordan and Mr. Brown present a program of songs that will be familiar to any long time Sheila Jordan fan. However, sequenced as they are over the course of the concert, these set pieces of Ms. Jordan’s repertoire form a surprisingly unified and compelling narrative. They document the history of a passionate love affair. It is not a romance between a man and a woman, but, rather, the story of Ms. Jordan’s own lifelong obsession with and devotion to bebop and jazz singing.
The first three songs reflect back on her previous voice/bass experiments - “The Very Thought of You” (with Harvie Swartz in 1993), “Better Than Anything” (with Arild Anderson in 1977) and “Dat Dere” (with Steve Swallow in 1962). Beginning with her own “Mourning Song,” Ms. Jordan then performs an extended suite of songs that salute her musical influences. She honours her greatest inspiration, Charlie Parker, with her composition, “The Bird,” and a vocalise version of Parker’s “Quasimodo.” She caresses Charles Mingus’ tribute to Lester Young, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” and dances through Thelonius Monk’s “Rhythmning.” The set’s highpoint comes in a deeply felt “Good Morning Heartache,” in memory of Billie Holiday, Ms. Jordan’s main vocal influence. Ms. Jordan follows this delineation of her musical journey with an exploration of her life’s journey in the amusingly autobiographical “Sheila’s Blues.” Ms. Jordan and Mr. Brown hold the listener’s attention throughout the program by continually finding the unexpected in the familiar.
As she demonstrated on last year’s sublime Jazz Child (recorded several months after this concert), Sheila Jordan’s musical journey is far from over. However, for this one evening, Ms. Jordan chose to reflect back, with warmth, humor and love, on the role jazz has played in her life. The concert’s audience responded with laughter, applause and a bebop sing-along. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to join them.”
Mathew Bahl in allaboutjazz.com (09.2000)

“From a mid-1950's duo encounter with Charles Mingus, Sheila Jordan has retained an infatuation with the sound of the bass throughout her on-again, off-again career of almost five decades. At the time, the vocal/bass duo was an innovative concept, years before Peggy Lee recorded “Fever”. Jordan's vision--or rather, her aural conception-was fulfilled with a 1977 album with bassist Arild Andersen. Jordan moved on to a classic series of duo albums with Harvie Swartz. When Swartz lost interest in the concept, serendipity led to Jordan's joining with Cameron Brown at a live concert in Belgium. Whether the Flemish- or French-speaking audience understood the nuances of Jordan's wit and musical story-telling is anybody's guess. Nevertheless, the audience responded. Vociferously.
Even though Sheila Jordan's enthusiasts have heard some of the tunes on this album before--in fact, making some of the songs her own--as always, she makes each performance unique. “Dat Dere” appeared on her first album, “A Portrait Of Sheila,” but Sheila portrays the tune as a dedication to the audience's children and their children-to-be. The Bird tribute, sung in duo with Mark Murphy on “One For Junior,” stresses her attempts to win alimony from ex-husband Duke Jordan in a dialogue with the audience. The Belgian audience laughs. Alimony must be a European concept as well. “Mourning Song” starts with Jordan's chanting, heard so prominently on her last album, “Jazz Child,” and then the tune recalls as a melancholy and wise tribute the universe of jazz musicians who have influenced her and the world at large. Performed with Swartz on “Songs From Within,” “Mourning Song” once again features the artistry of a leading bassist masterfully to create a mood in conjunction with voice, both instruments exposed without breaks or back-up for almost an hour. On “Good Morning Heartache,” Jordan's tribute to Billie Holiday, one expects to hear Kenny Barron's just-right accompaniment to drop in, as it did on “Lost And Found.” Instead, Brown presents a darker and more ruminative interlude, significant in its ability to capture attention through confidence and minimal volume.
While Jordan's earlier vocal/bass albums certainly are gems awaiting discovery, none of her previous CD's have been as obvious in expressing her love of the bass. “It's just the thought of you, the very thought of you, my bass, my love.” Or: “I've grown accustomed to the bass. it almost makes my day begin. I've grown accustomed to the sound. I love it pound for pound. The highs. The lows. The strings. The bows.”
Don Williamson in allaboutjazz.com (09.2000)

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