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Vocal debut from Ada Bird Wolfe

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    Posted: 08 Jan 2019 at 7:51pm

Sometimes, despite the best laid plans, life presents unexpected detours that can take you down uncharted byways on the way to your intended destination. But if you're lucky, like vocalist ADA BIRD WOLFE, you find yourself back on the original path and heading in the direction you've always wanted to go. Wolfe always wanted to be a musician, but for many years, the vicissitudes of life got in the way. Now, with the release of her debut CD, BIRDIE, she's back on track.
Wolfe was raised in Sudbury, MA, just outside of Boston. Even as a small child, she wanted to sing and act, so her parents started her on music lessons when she was just five years old. Throughout her school years, she studied several instruments, including piano, cello, guitar, sax, and flute, and she wrote songs for guitar and voice. Wolfe has always been a deeply thoughtful person with a spiritual inclination. From a progressive New England high school, she went to the University of Chicago, where she obtained a degree in Philosophical Psychology, which is an interdisciplinary field of study that links philosophy and the psychological sciences.
After graduating, Wolfe moved to Los Angeles to pursue a performance career in singing, acting and dance. However, she had to find more traditional jobs to help out with family finances. She worked in the business world for many years before finally breaking those chains, and she devoted herself to writing.
She wrote novels and poetry as well as articles for small, local newspapers. She was in New York City on 9/11, which had a deep, emotional impact on her. She became a serious anti-war activist and worked for several years with organizations promoting economic justice.
Although she wasn't actively pursuing her musical inclinations during these years, music was never far from her thoughts ... or ears. Because Chicago had such an active jazz and blues scene, she had been a devoted jazz fan since her college days. Music had been her first love, and she felt its constant tug. Then, in 2010, she decided to redirect her energies to singing and performing.
Her first forays in the L.A. jazz scene were open mic nights at the now defunct Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill. The club featured a stellar assortment of top-flight jazz musicians and was a great place for Wolfe to hone her chops. She soon began performing at other L.A. jazz establishments and found a new home at The Gardenia, a cozy nightclub in West Hollywood that features jazz and vocal performances. She also performed regularly at Upstairs at Vitello's in Studio City and the recently closed Bar Fedora in Downtown Los Angeles.
Wolfe grew up listening to the music of the jazz greats. Her early work focused on jazz standards, French jazz and the blues. In 2016, she began developing a series of shows she calls "Giant Shoulders." Each show explores the music of one of the giants of jazz, including to date Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.
Wolfe began working with pianist and arranger JAMIESON TROTTER, one of the busiest, first-call musicians in town. Trotter is particularly a favorite with vocalists. Wolfe says, "It is thrilling to work with a musician who is so brilliant, original and creative. We share a love of the kind of dissonance, angularity and humor found in Monk's work. And there's fabulous musical chemistry, which is a bit like e.s.p."
After years of performing, Wolfe decided it was finally time to make a recording. BIRDIE is the culmination of the past five years of Wolfe's explorations into classic swing, Chicago blues, R&B, French and Brazilian jazz, and bebop, Monk, Mingus, Miles, and Coltrane.
Wolfe is accompanied on BIRDIE by some of the top jazz players in Southern California, including Trotter, who plays piano and arranged the music, DAN LUTZ on bass, MIKE SHAPIRO on drums, SCOTT MAYO on tenor sax, JAMELLE ADISA on trumpet, and three different guitarists, KLEBER JORGEHIDEAKI TOKUNAGA, and NATHANIEL LAPOINTE.
Wolfe has a facility with languages and sings "Doralice" by João Gilberto in the original Portuguese, and "Mon Fantôme,"by French jazz composer Baptiste Tritognon, in French. Monk is one of Wolfe's favorite composers, and she performs several of his tunes on this disc, including the lovely "Ask Me Now," "Monk's Dream," and "Round Midnight," which she performs with two sets of lyrics written, one by Bernie Hanighen and one by Jon Hendricks. Hendricks is one of Wolfe's favorite lyricists and she also performs his lyrics to Miles Davis' "Four." Wolfe also sings "All Blues" by Miles, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" by Mingus, and a sexy, come-hither version of "Lover Man." Wolfe sings two tunes a bit outside the jazz genre -- she is a great admirer of Amy Winehouse and includes a jazzy version of "Valerie," and in a nod to her early years in Chicago, Wolfe sings Buddy Guy's "Every Time I Sing the Blues."
Music for Wolfe is both a spiritual and philosophical outlet. Her voice has a fluid, lilting quality that makes everything she sings uniquely her own. BIRDIE was a long time coming, and it's an auspicious debut by a mature artist that is well worth the wait.
BIRDIE is available in stores and online everywhere. Released November 15, 2018.

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