Tales Episode 18: Sheila Jordan

Tales will be coming from vocalist Sheila Jordan.

“Sheila Jordan is one of the Jazz world’s best kept secrets.”
– Blue Note –

With 51 + albums to her credit, how could she be the best-kept secret? People “in the know”, and what I mean by that, people who are true jazz lovers and listeners definitely know who Sheila Jordan is and what is so uncommon about her. She is one of the first vocalist to perform exclusively using just a bassist. When they speak about song stylist, story tellers, makers of history, Ms. Jordan is smack dab in the middle. Starting from her humble beginnings in the coal mining town of Pennsylvania to Chicago, where there, she dared to cross the lines of ignorance, willingly standing up to irrational racism. Her days in New York City. Her unique relationship with Charlie Parker, all the while living, performing , yes singing. That is where her heart was and still is to this day.

This legacy interview gives us all the opportunity to listen to the history of  jazz and how it was perceived by one of the world’s rare and ingenious vocalist. Ms. Jordan’s career spanning over 80 years speaks directly as the voice of the original generation of  jazz. You can’t know jazz or understand jazz unless you have heard this story. Sheila Jordan’s story.

“Gliding, soaring on the wind. You’re a sight of glory.
Flying way up there so high. Wonder what’s your story?”
from Bird Alone by Abbey Lincoln

No longer to wonder, now is to know. I feel very honored to have Ms. Sheila Jordan on this episode of Tales. I’ve listened to her unique and original song styling for most of my musical life and have discovered that appositeness of subtly is definitely an obscure concept these days. Most singers today, sing using acrobatics, digital voice assistance, bells and whistles, anything and everything goes, all running after the latest sound that is most heard and familiar. And then there are the true innovators. The singers who find the illusive truth of the self that is all too often hidden between the notes and words. For Ms. Jordan that truth is her ever constant companion and together they move as one in the world offering to each listener an experience that is rare, profound and colored by love.

During the interview, we spoke on these things and I wanted to list them here so that you can check them out and discover all the wonderful things about this extraordinary woman.

A recording on Riverside (For out of work coal miners) – You Are My Sunshine, (written by ? no one knows for sure)

“The Outer View” George Russell (1962)
Don Ellis (tp); Garnett Brown (tb); Paul Plummer (ts); George Russell (p); Steve Swallow (b) Pete LaRoca (d); Sheila Jordan (voc)

Queen Aliquippa and the town named after her.

Links to explore:
Queen Aliquippa: The Untold Story
Queen Aliquippa: A Resume
Queen Aliquippa – Google Search

Visit Sheila Jordan’s website to get the latest on her upcoming performance, her music, her workshop series and the latest news and releases. (Featured IMAGE – Creator: Richard Laird | Credit: Courtesy of the artist)


Tales from the Jazzside