Jazz

CORRESPONDENTMay 17, 2009 

  • Harvest

    1/2

As a singer, Nina Sheldon takes lots of liberties with the melody. As a pianist, she often plays a spare, elliptical, linear style. As a veteran performer returning to the scene -- she was active in New York throughout the '70s and '80s -- she's a welcome purveyor of experience and originality, as "Harvest" (Jazzed Media) attests.

Bassist John Menagon and drummer Bob Meyer accompany Sheldon throughout this 10-song set, with the late tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman joining in on two tunes. Because of the openness of her vocal and piano style, bass and drums become an organic part of the performances as opposed to timekeepers in the background.

On the opening "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" Sheldon hooks you immediately with her hurried, irregular vocal phrases answered by Menagon's bass. The performance builds through a quasi-scat sung second chorus with the trio, followed by a wry middle-register piano solo. "Baby, Baby All the Time" and "I'm Just a Lucky So and So" feature Newman's sly, insinuating tenor to good advantage behind the singer.

Sheldon's piano playing suggests Mose Allison, Jimmy Rowles, Paul Bley and Thelonious Monk but without imitating any of them. (Listen to her on "S'Wonderful.") There's also a less oblique piano component, as she reveals in a Bill Evans-tinged solo on "Detour Ahead." Her vocal here is a highlight of the album. Thrilling, indeed.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service