Audrey Shakir | If You Could See Me Now

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Jazz: Bebop Moods: Type: Vocal
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If You Could See Me Now

by Audrey Shakir

“One of the greatest bebop singers in the world today - a talent with a thrilling voice, sure to send elation through the audience.” Wynton Marsalis
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. It's You Or No One
3:27 album only
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2. Stompin' At The Savoy
4:09 album only
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3. If You Could See Me Now
4:13 album only
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4. Blue In Green
5:25 album only
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5. Where Or When
3:07 album only
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6. Birks' Works
7:06 album only
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7. This Time The Dream's On Me
4:38 album only
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8. Poor Butterfly / Trains and Boats and Planes
3:02 album only
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9. Little Willie Leaps
4:08 album only
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10. Never Never Land
5:52 album only
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11. You Can Depend On Me
2:47 album only

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
With so many contrived jazz divas on the scene, it’s little wonder that instrumentalists are generally wary of singers—and not just female singers. Of late, an abundance of mediocre male crooners have likewise persisted with advancing careers. Off they march to the beat of the same old drummer, singing the same old standards with the same limited results. Jaded? You bet.

Thirteen years ago, when I moved to Atlanta and began writing a jazz column for the local alternative newspaper, I heard a svelte, graceful woman—a seasoned singer—step out in front of a trio of local heavyweights and proceed to blow the house down. Her name was Audrey Shakir, and she wasn’t messing around. Seemingly oblivious to the large crowd in attendance, Shakir tore into some bop tune (the title of which eludes me) supplanting words with syllables that relayed more melodic invention and emotion than I had heard in quite some time. I sat there totally consumed by this vocalist, but my brain was channeling the music of Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley, and Kenny Dorham. I became an instant fan.

Born into a musical family in Cleveland, Audrey studied classical piano during her formative years but dug Motown, effortlessly singing third vocal parts to duet recordings by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell. Her mother, Ruby Patton, was an accomplished pianist, a church choir director and sacred music arranger of note who insisted that her five children learn to read music and play piano at a young age. Her father possessed a handsome baritone voice, was a huge fan of Billy Eckstine, and gave his children a solid listening background in big band jazz, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Audrey eventually began sitting in on piano at various Cleveland clubs, moved to New York in 1981, and performed as a pianist and vocalist at the Apollo Theater, Town Hall, and Tavern on the Green. Her duo held a steady gig on the Terrace at the Village Gate. She credits pianist Barry Harris’ Jazz Workshops with furthering her musical development throughout her eight-year stay in New York. Since her arrival in Atlanta in 1989, Audrey has remained much in demand, including memorable nights with pianist Johnny O’Neal at the now-defunct nightclub Just Jazz, weekends at Churchill Grounds, and regular appearances at the Atlanta Jazz Festival.

The sidemen on Audrey’s debut recording couldn’t be better. Jazz fans will know Kenny Barron as a five-time Grammy nominee, perhaps the most lyrical of all living pianists. Barron’s 1980s work with the Thelonious Monk dedicated co-op Sphere, and as a sideman with saxophonist Stan Getz embodies some of that decade’s finest jazz music. His own projects since then have been formidable. “Kenny exudes laid-back cool and is always so gracious,” says Audrey. “So, rather than feel intimidated recording with him, I was able to relax and feel free to try some things.”

Bassist Reginald Veal has performed and recorded consistently with Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, and many others. “He sounds like what I think a bass player should sound like,” says Audrey. “He’s interesting and in a hot place when you pay attention to him. Otherwise he provides a strong foundation that I can lean on when trying to build something.” Audrey’s regular drummer, Justin Varnes, quickly became a first-call percussionist of choice upon his arrival in Atlanta in 2003. He has performed with Phoebe Snow, Mose Allison, and Lew Soloff, among others. “Justin listens closely,” says Audrey, “so closely, in fact, that he can hear things coming—rhythms, melodies—and be with them as they arrive. It’s kind of startling in a way, like ESP.”

If this writer may paraphrase the title, “if you could see her now”—and we’re hoping you will very soon—this is what you’d hear from Mrs. Audrey Shakir: musical creativity of the highest order. May this CD be the first of many recordings to come.

James Rozzi

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