Sheila Jordan

Sheila Jordan Quartet, February 7, 1981 Los Angeles | Bob Moses, drums; Steve Kuhn, piano; Harvie Swartz, bass | Photo by Mark Weber

O, how the skies rained
blacked the asphalt our
headlights crackled speed
that splashed sideways
roaring late even for
night such destiny
such rain, it
pretends nothing except
pure wetness you have to
drive through before
you get there

As if delivered upon a
flood it is singing
that called you from
way deep inside and
singing has been your
light ever since.

(for Sheila Jordan)

Mark Weber | 12jan12


Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA – KUNM 89.9 FM – also streaming on the web > – Thursdays @ 12:06 Noon (Mountain Standard Time) Current time zone offset: UTC/GMT -6 hours – Host MARK WEBER – January 26, 2012

What can you say about artistry on such a profound level as that of Sheila Jordan? A person who was drawn immediately to the purity of Charlie Parker, a person who grew up in the hillbilly hollows of Appalachia and found a connection between her ancestral Gaelic blood and the African-American sensibility of Charlie Parker, and then never once compromised one drop of that blood in the actualizing of her vision, her solid-core honesty, her singing is so natural I often think of someone singing while washing the dishes in front of a windowsill full of potted plants, someone hanging out the wash and singing, singing while driving down the road in an old jalopy, happy as a lark, just purely singing in the naturalness of everyday life.

Sheila is such a different singer, she’s at once something wholly new and something basic and earthly. There is no one you could compare her with, she’s incomparable.

I also think of the necessary iconoclasm that worked as a corrective to America of the 1950s that Sheila was a part of as a bohemian in Greenwich Village. We owe her and her kind a lot.

We’ll be listening to her records on this radio show as well as having a Live telephone conversation with her. She is the pioneer of bass + voice duets, and an inventive scat vocalist and creative at all times clear down to her toes.

Sheila Jordan Quartet, February 7, 1981 Los Angeles | Bob Moses, drums; Steve Kuhn, piano; Harvie Swartz, bass | Photo by Mark Weber


  1. Richard Tabnik

    A great poem for a GREAT singer!

    Thanks , Mark!

  2. Mark Weber

    It was not too long ago on the telephone that Connie was telling me she felt that Sheila’s singing these days is on such a deep level as to be right up there with Billie.

  3. Bill Payne

    Sheila Jordan…A Fanastic Artist. Her meetings with Charlie Parker early in her career and her revolutionary recording with George Russell (You Are My Sunshine) are totally fascinating. Can’t wait to hear the show…

  4. Mark Weber

    le mot juste —
    I think of Connie’s choice of the word “unique” as she introduces Sheila at Town Hall on January 28, 1979 (Lennie Tristano Memorial Concert box set, vinyl) as transcendent.

  5. Giacomo Gates

    Hear, here!
    I am flattered and gassed to be able to say that Ms. Sheila Jordan is a friend….a prolific teacher, a wonderful story teller, a beautiful spirit, a journey agent and a
    force in Vocal Jazz. The Real Deal.
    Giacomo Gates

  6. joan jobe smith

    fabulous-fine poem for a fabulous-fine personage and performer.. wish i lived closer hearing range for this fine jan 26 day of Shelia Jordan..

  7. Lenny Tischler

    Sheila played at the Jazz Festival in Westcliffe Colorado 1990-ish …. when I was involved with it….she was great. Tell her hello but she probably doesnt remember my name….

  8. Andrea Wolper

    “Sheila is such a different singer, she’s at once something wholly new and something basic and earthly. ”

    What a perfect description!

  9. Chris Martin

    Sheila was born singing. Truth. Her mother said that when she emerged into life, she didnt cry or wail or whimper. Not Sheila, not like the rest of us. No, Sheila’s first little infant word, her first sound, was a note. A clear, baby-sweet, spider-silk musical note, a newborn song.


    My warmest wishes to Sheila. My day with her is one of my nicest memories, still, nearly 30 years later.

    I can’t wait to hear the show, Mark!

  10. Mark Weber

    NOTE: Chris Martin was an afternoon disk jockey on KUNM for 20+ years and it is her photograph of Sheila that is on the cover of album THE CROSSING where Sheila is on top of Sandia Peak over-looking Albuquerque and that silvery streak you see in the photograph is the Rio Grande.

  11. Mark Weber

    I found an old flyer at the radio station today that advertises Harvey Swartz & Sheila Jordan appearing at EJ’s Coffee Shop, Sunday, February 26, 1984, corner of Silver and Yale, (which is one block north of the present Outpost Performance Space), Albuquerque, under the auspices of New Mexico Jazz Workshop, which is now a great ayurvedic restaurant called Annapurna. This must be when Chris Martin (pronounced Marteen) took the photograph as she showed Sheila around on a day off. THE CROSSING album was recorded in the first two days of October, 1984.

  12. Harvie S


    Great to see the photos, but not great to see my name spelled incorrectly.
    Harvie not harvey (no ey in Harvie) Can you please correct this as soon as possible. Thank you.

  13. Kirk Silsbee

    That Maiden Voyage gig with Steve Kuhn and the band was Sheila’s Los Angeles debut. It was an occasion for her to reconnect with her old friend Noah Young–he was bassist Richard Youngstein when they worked together in 1960s New York. She also met broadcaster Will Thornbury for the first time at Maiden Voyage, and was stunned by how much he knew about her career. Sheila joined Will for a live interview on his KCRW show, which he recorded on reel-to-reel (at his own expense). It’s probably stashed somewhere in the Library of Congress.

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