Yoko Miwa

From the blog

Sheila and Yoko

Photos: Celebrating Sheila Jordan’s 90th Birthday!

Words can’t describe how amazing last weekend was! My heart was full as soon as Sheila Jordan arrived in Boston. Getting to hang out with her, rehearse, and accompany her for her vocal workshop was an unparalleled experience.

Performing two sold-out shows with Sheila at The Mad Monkfish was a musical experience I will remember for the rest of my life. Playing with Sheila is a form of music education that has almost become non-existent. It’s how she learned jazz and how all the legends learned: by apprenticeship. You can spend countless hours practicing exercises out of books, taking private lessons, transcribing and memorizing solos, or even attending any of the top music education institutions, but there’s no learning experience that compares with being thrown into the water with a true legend of this music and having to learn to float on your own. Sheila makes it easy with her genius, but the best part is she makes you feel so good, as though you were the reason the music came together so well when we all know it was her!

Thank you Jamme Chantler and The Mad Monkfish for making it all possible! Thank you to Brad Barrett and Scott Goulding for your great playing and for sharing the musical experience! Thanks to the wonderful audiences that packed the house for both shows and showed us your LOVE!

Most of all thank you to Sheila Jordan for being the amazing human and musician you are, and for reinforcing my choice to dedicate my life to this music! We are all lucky just to be alive at the same time as Sheila, but to experience what I did is nothing short of a blessing. I love you Sheila and feel so grateful to have had this opportunity. I told you words can’t express it, but I tried. Jazz is a feeling and the feeling just got stronger and left me with the same positive attitude that Sheila exudes with every breath she takes!

Photos by Janice Tsai

4 comments

  1. Yes, it was another magical night in the presence of all four of you musicians. I remember Ralph Gleason writing that he got more from listening to musicians than any preacher in a pulpit, and the more I get to witness musicians playing live, the more strongly I agree. Sheila is an enormous inspiration both personally and musically (if the distinction makes any sense) at any age. Thanks so much to all for putting on such terrific celebrations. I’ve caught three in a row now. And that Marc Johnson tune was just a gem, too, had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Carla Bley said in an interview that everyone should hear how great musicians sound by sitting on the bandstand. I got a seat just a few feet from Scott, so I could experience it all nice and close and soak it all in. And yep, kickass photos, JT. Nice compositions recording the atmosphere and reinforcing the memory.

    1. Thank you so very much Scott! It’s people like yourself that truly get it and even further reinforce my decision to devote my life to this music. I feel like I’m still so far from the goal that I aspire to reach but when I hear that kind of feedback I feel like I’ve already more than reached my goal. Thanks for being there and being part of it! Hope to see you again soon. :) -Yoko

  2. Okay, one more comment/question to offer. With regard to your point that a gig with Sheila does more for your development as a musician than the daily devotions of musical practice, Yoko, isn’t it kind of like all the preparation a Buddhist devotee goes through with daily meditations and prayer so when the Dalai Lama shows up, they can benefit as much as possible from the closer presence?

    1. Well said Scott. Very true that without all of the practice and preparation I couldn’t get as much from the experience. When Sheila saw what I wrote she declined to take any credit, she said: No! It’s all your own fault. :)

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