Did I mention Elizabeth Shepherd may well be the best jazz singer you never heard of? Sad but true.
Shepherd is set to drop Rewind on the 25th of September and this is cool jazz taken to a different dimension. An eclectic mix of tunes ranging from Lionel Hampton to Cole Porter and done with amazing and incredibly accessibly pop sensibilities without running the risk of turning off the jazz purist. Granted taste is subjective but Shepherd's pristine vocals and that three dimensional sonic depth of field along with the use of the rhodes give an old school catalog a new cool approach.
Opening with the Cole Porter number "Love For Sale" we find a groove that demands attention being laid down by bassist Ross MacIntyre and Shepherd on wurlitzer. As Randy Jackson would say, "This girl could sing the phone book." Speaking of American Idol not a season goes by that a contestant does not attempt the Leslie Bricusee, Anthony Newley tune "Feeling Good." While my initial reaction to seeing the tune on the record was not one of immediate enthusiasm, Shepherd's reharmed version is organic and open ended. If you are looking for the pretentious, self indulgent artist whose vocal gift comprises the ability to peal paint off the ceiling with a seven octave range then keep looking. Shepherd takes a more personal approach to her craft by recording songs for Rewind that have meaning to her and her life. Given the fact Shepherd was also expecting at the time of this recording you in turn take a conceptualized personal approach to another level. "Born To Be Blue" the Mel Torme classic smolders with a syncopated pop that is as infectious as it is adventurous in this particular setting.
A two time Juno nominee ( Canada's Grammy equivalent ) finds Shepherd with her first full jazz standards release not to mention a couple of French songs she fell in love with while growing up in Paris. That common if not understandable question of who does she sound like will always plague an artist. The best description may be the sound and phrasing of a Rickie Lee Jones combined with the vocal approach and tone of a Diana Krall. Shepherd does not consider herself a jazz singer in the strictest sense of the word but simply an artist that loves what she is doing.
We should all be so lucky!
Tracks: Love For Sale; Poinciana; Pourquoi Tu Vis; Lonely House; Les Amoureux Des Bancs Publics; Feeling Good; Midnight Sun; Sack of Woe; Buzzard Song; When You Are Near; Born To Be Blue; Prelude To A Kiss.
Personnel: Elizabeth Shephers: vocals, piano ( track 7), rhodes (3,6,10), wurlitzer (1,8,11), tuned mixing bowls & muted pestle (9), beatbox (11); Ross MacIntyre: double bass (1,4,8,9,10,11,12); Scott Kemp: double bass (3,6,7); Denzal Sinclaire: vocals (12); Kevin Turcotte: trumpet (10); David Travers-Smith: trumpet (12); Reg Schwager: guitar (2); Andrew Downing: cell, double bass (5); Colin Kingmore: drums, percussion; Mark Kelso: drums (11).