Submitted by Malcolm Holt
Once again, Georgia Straight Jazz Society is looking east for the weekly showcase.
In recent weeks the GSJS has presented two Toronto-based bands; this week it’s Montreal’s turn when the Elizabeth Shepherd Quintet takes the stage at The Avalanche Bar.
It’s been more than four years since Elizabeth Shepherd last played a concert for Georgia Straight Jazz Society. The capacity audience was enchanted by her sophisticated style of jazz, and after reviewing Elizabeth’s latest CD The Signal, it’s clear that her music only got better.
When she appeared before, Elizabeth was expecting her first child. Today she has a four-year-old daughter, and it’s evident from the poetic lyrics on her latest album, she continues to share her feelings about life and aging; faith; family; work, the planet and the struggle of life with its insecurities.
This is no ordinary jazz music: Shepherd’s music confronts you and begs to compare her insight and experience with your own. Lyrically, the subject matter touches on everything from Monsanto and motherhood to witchcraft and war.
The new songs were decisively influenced by the birth of her daughter.
“Motherhood changes you fundamentally, your perspective on life, the world and your role in it,” she said.
“I feel that this album is giving voice to my own strength as a woman. Every song except one is about a woman or written from a female perspective. I believe in the sisterhood and its immense power that has yet to be fully explored. Giving birth to a daughter, I knew I had to step up my game as a woman, of what we can do, of how we can lift each other up, and this record is an extension of that realization.”
As always, Shepherd manages to make her odd-meter grooves feel fluid and funky, while her sensual, breathy voice is as direct and haunting as ever. Warm and fuzzy or cool and sparkling, Shepherd’s electric Rhodes piano anchors the sound of The Signal, and her love of soul, funk, and old-school hip-hop shines through in the beats that propel many of the tracks. An adventurous producer, the three-time Juno nominee successfully incorporates Moog keyboard, ngoni, steel pans and kalimba as well as a range of samples that include blues legend Lead Belly and Mother Teresa.
The Signal will be available at the show this Thursday. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for members, and $12 for non-members. For more information about the jazz society, please visit www.georgiastraightjazz.com.