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New album from vocalist Ada Bird Wolfe

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    Posted: 26 Oct 2020 at 8:43pm
HE AND ME, the newest project by singer and lyricist ADA BIRD WOLFE, is a duo album featuring the esteemed pianist and arranger JAMIESON TROTTER performing jazz standards and originals. HE AND ME follows Wolfe’s 2018 release, Birdie, named one of the top 10 albums of 2018 by C. Michael Bailey in All About Jazz. Dick Metcalf of Contemporary Fusion Reviews called Birdie "a superb jazz vocal adventure." And Dodie Miller-Gould of Lemonwire said: "Birdie is a joyous compilation of songs that shows off the singer’s vocal range and scope of moods."

Wolfe has been studying music since she was just five years old. She studied the piano, cello, guitar, sax, and flute, and wrote songs for guitar and voice. Contemplative and introspective with an inclination toward spirituality, she earned a degree in Philosophical Psychology from the University of Chicago.

Wolfe has been a jazz enthusiast since her college days, but after graduation, life took her down various career by-roads, including a period when she wrote novels, poetry, and articles for local newspapers. It took many years before she was finally able to focus on singing and lyric writing. She began honing her chops by singing at open mic nights, which soon led to headlining her own gigs at various jazz venues around Los Angeles. She found a home base at The Gardenia, a cozy Hollywood nightclub that features some of the top-notch jazz and cabaret artists in Southern California. It was there that she first heard Trotter.

Trotter is a first-call accompanist for vocalists who are serious about their craft. He attended California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with the great bass player Charlie Haden. In order to make ends meet, he was lucky enough to find some work in the movie industry. He was Val Kilmer’s piano hands in “The Salton Sea” and Debra Winger’s coach for “Eulogy” with Ray Romano. His piano playing can also be heard in a number of films.

Trotter’s taste in music is eclectic. He performed for a while with the Temptations, composed orchestral parts for Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66, and played with Mathew Morrison and Mark Salling of the television show “Glee.” His piano work is featured on Salling’s album Pipe Dreams, as well as on critically acclaimed albums by vocalists Carol Bach y Rita and Mark Winkler. Trotter has also produced projects for several artists in various styles, from hardcore jazz to country music.

Wolfe first heard Trotter at the Gardenia five years ago, and they have been working together ever since. “Jamieson is a brilliant pianist and arranger,“ says Wolfe. “He appreciates singers, and he really brings out the best in me. And, like me, he likes to take chances and push the envelope.” In 2016, working with Trotter, Wolfe 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. They also began writing music together and wrote several tunes for HE AND ME.

Wolfe has a rich, alto voice with a warm, intimate timbre. She eschews melisma and vocal gymnastics to tell her stories through inventive phrasing and subtle variations on melody. Trotter possesses an expansive musical vocabulary and the ability to listen closely and react with his own imaginative turns of phrase.

The album opens with the Wayne Shorter tune “ESP.” Wolfe was given permission by Shorter’s representatives to write and record her lyrics, perhaps because her lyrics are so smart and capture the essence of the tune so well. For example, ”Sometimes it seems you can read my mind / Sometimes it seems our thoughts entwine / ESP is the miracle sign / When your heart hears the message sent by mine.”

Wolfe also wrote the lyrics to the Wolfe/Trotter originals “Sweet Nardis,” “Too Much Stuff,” and “Done with That.” The different types of lyrics for these tunes shows the breadth of Wolfe’s lyric writing abilities. “Sweet Nardis” is a song about a queen who only cares about her midnight lover. “Too Much Stuff” is a humorous take on just having too many physical possessions, but with the underlying message of having too much baggage in one’s life. And “Done with That” is about getting to a place in life where she has stopped being afraid or caring about acquiring the trappings of a “successful” life.

Other songs include the Lennon/McCartney tune “Blackbird.” Although the song has been done by many artists, Trotter’s open, angular arrangement imbues the tune with a uniquely moody air. Wolfe says that Monk tunes always make her smile with delight, which is why she included “Get It Straight,” which is Monk’s “Straight No Chaser” with lyrics by Sally Swisher. Wolfe and Trotter do straight-ahead versions of “But Beautiful,” “You're Everything," and "Night in Tunisia," as well as “Any Women’s Blues,” a get-down, gut bucket blues tune originally sung by Bessie Smith. She sings “Logo Eu” in its original Portuguese. The song was written by Chico Buarque, a Brazilian singer-songwriter and guitarist who is known for writing music with social, economic, and cultural commentaries. The set is rounded out by a composite of Miles Davis' "All Blues" and "Blue In Green" by Davis and Bill Evans.

HE AND ME provides a glimpse into the creative process of two musicians whose tastes and aesthetics are completely in synch. They build tunes organically by listening closely to one another and weaving tapestries of sound that create new and unexpected aural images.

HE AND ME will be available on October 30, 2020 online and everywhere.

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