Reviews for Birdie
ADA BIRD WOLFE, Birdie
by Jonathan Widran | JW Vibe
November 27, 2018
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.
Unique soulful jazz vocals Ada Bird Wolfe | Birdie
Contemporary Fusion Reviews by Dick Metcalf
December 29, 2019
What a splendid set of unique & soulful jazz vocals to wake up to on a rainy Great Northwest morning… this is my first listen to Ada’s fine jazz vocal work, but as you listen to tunes like the 4:40 opener, “Lover Man“, you’ll know right away why my ears are strongly attracted to her style.
There’s an excellent introductory trailer that will give you some very intimate insights into Ada’s mighty mellow personality…
…as you’ll see & hear, she’s simply delightful, and her co-players (Jamieson Trotter (piano/musical director), Dan Lutz (bass), Mike Shapiro (drums), Scott Mayo (tenor saxophone), Jamelle Adisa (trumpet), Nathaniel LaPointe (guitar), Hideaki Tokunaga (guitar), Kleber Jorge (guitar) really help her spice it up. Of course, since you’re there already, be sure you SUBSCRIBE to her YouTube channel (I did), where you’ll find many highly spirited live videos to watch.
Ada’s vocal rendition of Mile’s “All Blues” will have those “jazz chills” runnin’ up & down your spine, I’ve no doubt… I do believe this is the most unique version of this jazz classic I’ve ever listened to!
Ada is a fan of Monk, and you’ll hear her talent just shining through on her 5:38 rendition of his “Ask Me Now“… laid-back, & the ultimate in cool… you’ll be hitting “replay” on this one often, and I can easily see it hitting the charts in a very big way.
It’s another Monk tune that got my vote for personal favorite… “‘Round Midnight” gives you a totally new perspective on this fine song… lush and mighty mellow, and I totally loved Jamieson’s keyboard on this one!
I give Ada and her players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this superb jazz vocal adventure… get more information about this fascinating artist at Ada’s website.
Ada Bird Wolfe makes her debut with “Birdie”
By Dodie Miller-Gould | Lemonwire
November 16, 2018
So often audiences and critics hear of jazz performers being precocious players of music. It happens so often that sometimes it seems common, as if such fast development and exposure to performance opportunities are supposed to happen for every talented musician or singer. Singer Ada Bird Wolfe takes that idea and turns it on its head. While she as a precocious music student, real-life and other interests found Wolfe putting off her debut until she was relatively more mature. In the interim, she lived a full life as a businesswoman, a creative writer and a journalist. But music was never far from Wolfe. Her debut album, “Birdie,” is a joyous compilation of songs that shows off the singer’s vocal range and scope of moods that she can create.
About Ada Bird Wolfe
A native of Sudbury, Mass., Wolfe learned to love music as a small child. Her first music lessons took place when she was just five years old. In a short succession of years, Wolfe was able to competently play piano, guitar, saxophone, cello and flute before she graduated high school.
For college, Wolfe left New England to attend the University of Chicago. She earned a degree in Philosophical Psychology, but after graduating college, she headed to Los Angeles to pursue her performance dreams in the fields of singing, acting and dancing.
As so often happens, real-life got in the way. Wolfe’s help was needed to stabilize the family finances, and she sought a “real” job to assist.
When Wolfe was able to escape from her 9-to-5 life, she immersed herself in writing. After successfully writing novels, poetry, and articles for small newspapers, in 2010, Wolfe found her way back to music.
Wolfe’s first opportunities to sing jazz presented themselves in Los Angeles. She sang during open mic nights at the now-defunct Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill. In a short span of time, she began performing at a variety of clubs, and performed regularly at an intimate night club in West Hollywood called The Gardenia.
The sound of “Birdie” by Ada Bird Wolfe
While knowing a musician’s biography is not essential to appreciating the work he or she records, sometimes it helps. In the case of Wolfe, the biographical notes are helpful. When audiences hear Wolfe sing, they can feel the soulful, bluesy feel that can’t be faked. Her authentic voice, at turns mellifluous, and at turns full of emotion is a key element in the soundscape. Wolfe’s voice doesn’t get lost in the bluesy rush of guitar for example on “Every Time I Sing the Blues.”
Wolfe’s strength then, isn’t in just being a powerhouse belter. Instead, she draws listeners in, encourages them to hear where she is coming from in her interpretations of classic jazz. There is a sense of big city sophistication, and of world-weary soul.
Standout tracks on the album include “Loverman,” “Monk’s Dream,” and the aforementioned “Every Time I Sing the Blues.”
Wolfe is joined on the album by a stellar group of musicians that include Jamieson Trotter on piano, Scott Mayo on tenor sax, Jamelle Adisa on trumpet, Kleber Jorge on guitar, Hideaki Tokunaga on guitar, Nathanial LaPointe on guitar, Dan Lutz on bass and Mike Shapiro on drums.
Ada Bird Wolfe | Birdie
Upstairs at Vitello’s, Studio City, CA, November 15, 2018
Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes
November 17, 2018
Ada Bird Wolfe radiates confidence when she’s on stage, and she has the chops to back up that confidence. Singing jazz makes her happy, she told the audience, and she was clearly in her comfort zone in an evening of solid jazz that doubled as a release party for her new CD, Birdie.
Backed by a sextet of top-notch musicians—she called them her “Ferraris”—Wolfe was on point in her patter as she explained why each song was important to her and how it fit into her musical development. Speaking of Thelonius Monk, Bird said she loves his dissonance, humor, passion, and romanticism, which she demonstrated with a smooth, wistful “Ask Me Now” (lyrics by Jon Hendricks) that featured beautiful phrasing and audible sighs from the audience. She was accompanied brilliantly by Doug Webb on tenor sax.
Wolfe was absolutely stunning in a performance of “Four” (Miles Davis/Hendricks), in which she kept up with the song’s demanding vocalese that left little breathing room while making it all seem very easy. The number featured musical director Jamieson Trotter on piano, Mike Bolger on trumpet, and Webb on sax.
Sticking with Davis, Wolfe offered a soft, thoughtful take on the dissonant “All Blues,” and she added her own lyrics to Davis’ “Nardis,” singing about a young queen who longs to have a child with her never-seen midnight lover (“When daylight comes, he stays no more/All day, sitting on her throne, her fingers trace what she has known at night/Only by their touch …”).
Wolfe also wrote lyrics to Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.,” about the unspoken communication between lovers (“E.S.P. is the miracle sign/When your heart hears the message sent by mine…”), which featured solos by Trey Harris on bass and Webb on sax.
The evening included “Before the Music Stops” by Terry Trotter, father of Wolfe’s musical director (lyrics by K. Lawrence Dunham)—a melodic, romantic song that Wolfe noted is “grounded in the Great American Songbook but with twists and turns that put it in my wheelhouse.” Her performance was sweet and heartfelt as Trotter deftly caressed the keys playing his father’s song.
She was also terrific on the vocalese take by James Moody on “I’m in the Mood for Love” (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields), and she spiced up “Lover Man” (Jimmy Davis/Roger Ramirez/James Sherman) with a Latin beat that added a joyousness to the downbeat lyrics.
The show also featured solid, consistent accompaniment from Peter Buck on drums and Nathaniel LaPointe on guitar.
Soulful Debut From Ada Bird Wolfe,
'Birdie' Holds CD Release Party At Vitello's
November 7, 2018
Sometimes, despite the best laid plans, life presents unexpected detours that can take you down uncharted byways on the way to your intended destination. But if you're lucky, like vocalist ADA BIRD WOLFE, you find yourself back on the original path and heading in the direction you've always wanted to go. Wolfe always wanted to be a musician, but for many years, the vicissitudes of life got in the way. Now, with the release of her debut CD, BIRDIE, she's back on track.
Wolfe was raised in Sudbury, MA, just outside of Boston. Even as a small child, she wanted to sing and act, so her parents started her on music lessons when she was just five years old. Throughout her school years, she studied several instruments, including piano, cello, guitar, sax, and flute, and she wrote songs for guitar and voice. Wolfe has always been a deeply thoughtful person with a spiritual inclination. From a progressive New England high school, she went to the University of Chicago, where she obtained a degree in Philosophical Psychology, which is an interdisciplinary field of study that links philosophy and the psychological sciences.
After graduating, Wolfe moved to Los Angeles to pursue a performance career in singing, acting and dance. However, she had to find more traditional jobs to help out with family finances. She worked in the business world for many years before finally breaking those chains, and she devoted herself to writing.
She wrote novels and poetry as well as articles for small, local newspapers. She was in New York City on 9/11, which had a deep, emotional impact on her. She became a serious anti-war activist and worked for several years with organizations promoting economic justice.
Although she wasn't actively pursuing her musical inclinations during these years, music was never far from her thoughts ... or ears. Because Chicago had such an active jazz and blues scene, she had been a devoted jazz fan since her college days. Music had been her first love, and she felt its constant tug. Then, in 2010, she decided to redirect her energies to singing and performing.
Her first forays in the L.A. jazz scene were open mic nights at the now defunct Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill. The club featured a stellar assortment of top-flight jazz musicians and was a great place for Wolfe to hone her chops. She soon began performing at other L.A. jazz establishments and found a new home at The Gardenia, a cozy nightclub in West Hollywood that features jazz and vocal performances. She also performed regularly at Upstairs at Vitello's in Studio City and the recently closed Bar Fedora in Downtown Los Angeles.
Wolfe grew up listening to the music of the jazz greats. Her early work focused on jazz standards, French jazz and the blues. In 2016, she began developing a series of shows she calls "Giant Shoulders." Each show explores the music of one of the giants of jazz, including to date Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.
Wolfe began working with pianist and arranger Jamieson Trotter, one of the busiest, first-call musicians in town. Trotter is particularly a favorite with vocalists. Wolfe says, "It is thrilling to work with a musician who is so brilliant, original and creative. We share a love of the kind of dissonance, angularity and humor found in Monk's work. And there's fabulous musical chemistry, which is a bit like e.s.p."
After years of performing, Wolfe decided it was finally time to make a recording. BIRDIE is the culmination of the past ?ve years of Wolfe's explorations into classic swing, Chicago blues, R&B, French and Brazilian jazz, and bebop, Monk, Mingus, Miles, and Coltrane.
Wolfe is accompanied on BIRDIE by some of the top jazz players in Southern California, including Trotter, who plays piano and arranged the music, DAN LUTZ on bass, Mike Shapiro on drums, SCOTT MAYO on tenor sax, JAMELLE ADISA on trumpet, and three different guitarists, KLEBER JORGE, HIDEAKI TOKUNAGA, and NATHANIEL LAPOINTE.
Wolfe has a facility with languages and sings "Doralice" by João Gilberto in the original Portuguese, and "Mon Fantôme,"by French jazz composer Baptiste Tritognon, in French. Monk is one of Wolfe's favorite composers, and she performs several of his tunes on this disc, including the lovely "Ask Me Now," "Monk's Dream," and "Round Midnight," which she performs with two sets of lyrics written, one by Bernie Hanighen and one by Jon Hendricks. Hendricks is one of Wolfe's favorite lyricists and she also performs his lyrics to Miles Davis' "Four." Wolfe also sings "All Blues" by Miles, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" by Mingus, and a sexy, come-hither version of "Lover Man." Wolfe sings two tunes a bit outside the jazz genre -- she is a great admirer of Amy Winehouse and includes a jazzy version of "Valerie," and in a nod to her early years in Chicago, Wolfe sings Buddy Guy's "Every Time I Sing the Blues."
Music for Wolfe is both a spiritual and philosophical outlet. Her voice has a fluid, lilting quality that makes everything she sings uniquely her own. BIRDIE was a long time coming, and it's an auspicious debut by a mature artist that is well worth the wait.
BIRDIE will be available in stores and online everywhere on November 15, 2018.