Tag Archives: Sheila Jordan

Kavita Shah: Bringing a world of jazz to Berkeley

Kavita xxx. Photo: Julien Carpenter
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If Kavita Shah had stuck to her usual morning ritual, she would have missed the fateful subway ride that changed the course of her life. For some reason, instead of hustling down the stairs to catch the train to her job at Human Rights Watch in midtown Manhattan, she decided to wait for the next train. When it arrived, and the doors opened, she immediately recognized Sheila Jordan, the extraordinary jazz singer who has served as den mother to a diverse array of aspiring vocalists for more than four decades.

“I wouldn’t be here if not for Sheila,” said Shah, a rising New York vocalist who makes her Bay Area debut Saturday at San Francisco’s Red Poppy Art House, and Sunday afternoon at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool).

The American-born daughter of Indian immigrants, Shah recently released an enthralling debut album Visions on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music, a label that has launched some of the most interesting jazz artists of the 21st century. Produced by Benin-born guitar star Lionel Loueke (heard recently at the SFJAZZ Center with Herbie Hancock), the album features her singular synthesis of jazz, Afro-Brazilian, West African, and Hindustani music. … Continue reading »

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Sheila Jordan: An improvised life

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If Sheila Jordan made a deal with the devil, she seems to be getting the best of the bargain. At 84, jazz’s most intrepid vocalist sounds like a woman half her age. She’s come through just about everything that life can throw at you: grinding rural poverty, thuggish police who harassed her for hanging out with black men, decades of scuffling for gigs in obscurity, and her own alcohol-driven demons. Nothing deterred her, and today she stands virtually alone as a survivor of the bebop era who literally sings praises for her late friend Charlie Parker at every gig.

Jordan makes a rare Bay Area appearance Monday at Freight & Salvage as part of a Jazzschool concert in her honor featuring Laurie Antonioli, Madeline Eastman, Kitty Margolis, and Ed Reed. The concert is a fundraiser for the Jazzschool Institute Mark Murphy Vocal Scholarship, which is awarded to a highly promising student (Jordan is also conducting a workshop at the Jazzschool on Sunday afternoon). … Continue reading »

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Community schools help kids but worry neighbors

Mary Fisher, principal of Hayeard Community School, talking to a student
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HAYWARD — Nine teenage boys and one teenage girl sat grouped around a set of desks arranged in a rectangle. Their eyes were focused on another boy standing in front of them, who was reading from his report on the effects of marijuana.

“People are introduced to marijuana usually by their friends, older sister or brother, or someone they know,” said the speaker, who looked up from his paper to flash a smile at his classmates, who then started to talk.

“You are doing very well,” said Annie Green, the teacher, who, without missing a beat, turned to the class and told them to tone down their chatter. “Save your comments for later,” she said. Green then turned her attention back to her standing student and started to probe some of the points he made in his presentation, particularly what marijuana does to pregnant women.

The scene could be one from any Bay Area high school with its mix of restless students and a teacher trying to tamp down their chatter. But this didn’t happen in an ordinary school. It took place recently at the Hayward Community School, a school run by the Alameda County Office of Education for students who have been expelled by their own school districts for truancy, bad behavior, repeated suspensions, and violent acts like carrying a weapon to school. Some may have served time in juvenile hall.

Nestled in the back of the bright yellow Eden Youth and Family Center on West Tennyson, right next to a pediatric clinic, a day care center and a day labor program, the Hayward Community School serves 64 of Alameda County’s toughest students, those, who, despite repeated chances, could not make it at their own high schools. They have been sent to the community school to sit out their expulsions, which may range from a semester to a year.

Four of the students at the Hayward Community School live in Berkeley, and soon, in the 2011-2012 school year, students like them might be able to attend classes in their hometown rather than have to travel to Hayward. The Alameda County Office of Education and the Berkeley Unified School District are proposing to create a small community school inside the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue near Virgina. … Continue reading »

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