Any emerging jazz stylist bold enough to apply her multitude of vocal gifts and talent for fresh phrasing to classics by Amy Winehouse and Buddy Guy in addition to Miles, Monk and Mingus immediately deserves our attention. The fact that the incomparable L.A. based Ada Bird Wolfe pulls it off on her debut album Birdie with such panache, sensuality and quirky fun is testament to the value of having a musically open mind and heart.
Birdie is an 11 song master class in finding ways to sing and speak one’s soul by combining the heart of what makes jazz magical with deep spirituality and touches of exotica via numbers sung in French (“Mon Fantome”) and Portuguese (“Doralice”). One of Wolfe’s most indelible gifts is the ability to modulate her voice from dreamy and vulnerable to darker and guttural depending on the mood of the tune. The emotionally stirring, culturally and rhythmically eclectic set – which draws inspiration from swing, traditional jazz, R&B and Chicago blues traditions – is an outgrowth of a popular series of shows called “Giant Shoulders” that Wolfe performed with top jazz cats starting in 2016, paying homage to legends of the art form.
More than simply the culmination of the singer’s lifelong passion for music, Birdie, true to its name, is an invitation to let your spirit soar as it embraces fresh, unexpected possibilities. Hopefully this is just the beginning of her long, fruitful flight as a major recording artist.