In my review of Ada Bird Wolfe’s emotionally stirring, critically acclaimed 2018 debut Birdie, I mentioned that the collection grew out of a popular series of shows called “Giant Shoulders" that the captivating singer performed with “top jazz cats” starting in 2016.
The most prominent of those cats, Jamieson Trotter, is one of the Los Angeles jazz scene’s most renowned and inventive artists. The intimate and intricate creative partnership he and Wolfe have developed doing these shows over the years now leads to He & Me, a collection of sparsely arranged but intuitively adventurous piano-vocal duets that intersperses a few witty, whimsical and heartfelt originals (Don’t we all have “Too much Stuff”? Aren’t we all “Done With That”?) amidst free-spirited, angular and blessedly outside the box vocal re-imaginings of jazz classics, some featuring fresh lyrics.
The set includes gems performed in way you've never heard before by Wayne Shorter (“Mind to Mind/ESP”), Dizzy Gillespie (“Night In Tunisia”), Chick Corea (“You’re Everything”), Bessie Smith (“Any Woman’s Blues”), Miles Davis (“Blue in Green/All Blues”) and Thelonious Monk (the wit filled “Get it Straight,” adapted from “Straight No Chaser”). Along the way, Wolfe and Trotter also tap exquisitely into The Beatles’ always relevant “Blackbird” and showcase her sensual Portuguese vocals and effortless scat skills on the spritely Brazilian tune “Logo Eu,” penned by Chico Buarque.
When people who don’t live in Los Angeles ask what makes the deeply interactive, mix and match jazz community there so special, we can now point to He & Me as a visionary example of what can eventually result when a singer serendipitously walks into a cozy club (in this case, The Gardenia), hears an incredible musician and connects on transcendent levels that open the door to endless possibilities.