Elli Fordyce – Reflections

by R27 CREATIVELAB on Friday, 4 September 2009

A quick note before we begin - you can hear samples of Elli's music at the end of the article and download desktop images.


Who today in the music scene do you see yourself in ... or who makes you smile with the sound they're creating?
Odd questions for me since, when I read them I was barely listening to nor going to hear live music. Several times I'd overdone it so much, especially in the '90s listening 24/7 when possible to the NYC jazz station, sitting in at jams and going to hear others so often that, after taking a break, I never returned. Until now.

Curtis Davenport, @CurtJazz on Twitter, in Charlotte, NC, has gotten me hooked on his eclectic jazz programming at www.curtscafejazz.com, which I'm now logged onto all the time. It started when he liked my new CD and promised to include it in heavy rotation on Curt's Café Noir. Since then, he's continuously delighted me with his choices of new and older jazz and sent me on several journeys to look up the artists.

Last week, I went into the city with my 5-lb. Yorkie to catch Roberta Gambarini live. I've known about Roberta since we both launched radio-play for new CDs in 2008, having the same rep; I'd receive reports from jazz DJs and programmers for both of us, but I didn't tap, being in my listening-burnout. @RGambarini and I began an exchange on Twitter and wound up supporting and enjoying each other's work. Curt's show included her and another current jazz vocalist I know in his rotation of Living Jazz artists. It was fun to hear all three of us on Curt's show and great to meet and watch Roberta in action and hear some of her fans speak about her. I hope we enjoy some hanging out time soon and lots more mutual support and music sharing.

What had replaced that enormous amount of listening and hearing live music (in addition to watching tons of dramatic TV and DVDs, having begun acting in 2000 and using it as training) had been catching musical acts like those on David Foster's special on PBS or those Oprah featured, plus checking out YouTubes, music clips and sites recommended on Twitter. Overall I've found I needed to create, not study others' renditions and for now most of my listening is much more in quick-scan mode.

But let me mention things that have REALLY made me smile in musical past.

I remember being on the verge of quitting singing in the '70s, seeing a jazz singer (can't recall his name), and being so inspired! His phrasing, emotion and sound (always the things that grab me) were completely elevating.

A show I've had the privilege of being in in its jazz choir many times is called "Bending Towards the Light, A Jazz Nativity." The purpose of it initially was to introduce inner-city kids to jazz through familiar Christmas songs but the show has been performed many times in NY and elsewhere for nearly 25 years, although recently it's been presented in a smaller format at a jazz club with no room on-stage for a choir and using a minimum number of cast and musicians. Whenever I've heard the Nativity on CD (www.jazznativity.com), in-person, been on-stage or in rehearsals, or talked about it, it's brought me to profound gripping tears. The musical director, Bob Kindred, jokes with m, calling me the slush bucket (always crying, even after so many experiences, but it has great impact on so many levels).

Some of the times I've seen Michael Buble perform on TV, he's really lit me up -- I definitely want to perform with him -- and the new Diana Krall videos (her Brazillian album) get me at my musical core.

Bobby Darin (with whom I was very close friends way before he began singing: www.darinland.com) was my biggest inspiration, although I never thought I would try to go for it for years, especially after he had his big break. I was privileged to spend a few days with him in Las Vegas in 1971 where I went to every brilliant show he did and have DVDs capturing that era.

During a strong hurricaine in Miami in 1965, I discovered Sammy Davis! We were inside staying away from windows, awaiting the eye's arrival, when I found an album called Live at the Coconut Grove recorded a couple of years earlier. Until then I hadn't paid much attention to him; yeah, yeah, a kid dancer, multiple skills, lost an eye, yeah, yeah; but lying on the living room floor alone listening to that show, I was transported. His singing, impressions, taste in music and jazz feel were total lift-off. And I was lucky enough to briefly meet him in '71 (in a social context, not a performing one). Mentioning a mutual friend, he was very sweet.

In Puerto Rico during the year I lived there in 1969, I was lucky enough to see Tony Bennett from the wings of the stage where he was performing; another case of yeah, yeah, for me. I'd heard all his hits in the '50s ad infinitum and if I never had to sing "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" again, it would be too soon. I was pretty turned off to him by the time jazz took hold of my heart around 1951. To my surprise he's only a jazz singer but the sweetest man alive and one the audience couldn't get enough of, then or now. He stood next to me before going on, not knowing why I was there or who I was, smiled cordially and went out and completely knocked 'em dead. I've been a fan ever since.. I particularly remember for the first time hearing him on a car radio singing "Waltz for Debby" with it's composer Bill Evans playing piano so brilliantly. I'd been singing the tune in jazz choir and already adored it (it's the title tune of my newest CD, "Songs Spun of Gold," which came from that lyric?), but when I heard Tony sing the ending I totally got it! Again, a transformational experience.

Another musical lift-off happened standing in an empty motel ball room in NJ, listening to the musak from a ceiling speeker, in 1973, when Neal Sadaka came on doing with the ballad version of "Breaking Up is Hard to Do." I was transfixed. Another similar experience was hearing Quincy Jones' cover of "What's Going On?" -- especially the flute solo on the bridge. WOW! This was also in the '70s. In the '70s I covered Roberta Flack's hits often, usually playing in Top-40 cover bands, and those being hits I could relate to. I adored "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly" and really felt those lyrics. Another tune from that era was "Superstar," though I liked my rendition more than the Carpenters'. There were many great lift-off experiences during my own performances, but that's not what you're asking about here. I guess I've got so many of these incredible-feeling memories stored up that the urge to pile on more is slight. But even thinking of any of these definitely makes me smile with the sound and more importantly, the feeling it left in my heart and mind.

Again, Rajesh, thanks for the opportunity to think about your questions.

You may also want to read the following articles covering Elli's life:

Elli Fordyce – Still very cool
Elli Fordyce – In the light she dances...
Elli Fordyce – What's your type?
Elli Fordyce – No More Blues
Elli Fordyce – Inspiration
Elli Fordyce – Change
Elli Fordyce – Set in Stone
Elli Fordyce – The Writing's on the Wall

Free Wallpaper Images

On behalf of Elli - download your desktop wallpaper images by [clicking here]

Useful Links

Elli Fordyce's Website: www.ellifordyce.com
You can follow Elli on twitter @ElliFordyce
Management: Redwood Entertainment [see artists page]

CD and samples available from | iTunes | CD Baby | Amazon | Napster | AmieST |

Certain images are provided and owned by © 2009 Elli Fordyce |
Desktop images and text created by R27 | © 2009 R27 Creativelab

Leave your comment

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Best Regards Rajesh