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Originally published Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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Sheila Jordan's 'Yesterdays' a treasure

New CDs released Tuesday, Jan. 31, include jazz singer Sheila Jordan's splendid live duets with bassist Harvie S, "Yesterdays."

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Sheila Jordan, 'Yesterdays' (High Note)

Years ago, the incomparable but perennially underrecognized jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan made a duet album with bassist Arild Andersen, "Sheila," that is one of the treasures of my collection. High Note has now released a live recording from the early '90s of Jordan with bassist Harvie S that hits that mark again.

Jordan's high, light, mischievously supple voice and Harvie S's toffee-rich, dexterous bass achieve an orchestral completeness that never for a minute makes you feel anything is missing. Spontaneity and a sense of play are paramount. On "The Very Thought of You," Jordan improvises a recitative rebuttal, midsong, of a review that complained she didn't sing the melody last time she was in town. But that's Jordan's thing: She inhabits the architecture of a tune, then celebrates it by messing with it. On "Honeysuckle Rose," after cracking up at a surprise bass "wow," she launches into a breakneck tempo that's just crazy.

On "Lazy Afternoon," Jordan slips into Meredith Monk-like Native American mode, then closes with a version of "I Could Have Danced All Night" that ends with a capricious soprano imitation of Julie Andrews.

When it's all over, she and everyone else in the room are giggling with joy. You will, too.

Paul de Barros, Seattle Times jazz critic

Other new releases

Jeff Lorber, "Galaxy" (Heads Up)

Ruthie Foster, "Let It Burn" (Blue Corn Music)

Ringo Starr, "Ringo 2012" (Hip-0)

Note: Ruthie Foster appears at the Triple Door on Saturday.

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