Vocalist and pianist Nina Sheldon has a thing for Bard College; the Woodstock resident graduated from the college and recorded her latest release on campus. On Harvest, which was recorded in 2006 and produced by Bard faculty member and saxophonist Erica Lindsay, Sheldon is accompanied by locals John Menagon (bass) and Bob Meyer (drums). The album is like your favorite flick: It’s got everything—a beautiful setting, a great supporting cast, and a heroine in no need of rescuing. Like the vocalists she sites as influential guides—Joanie Sommers, Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, Rene Marie, and Mark Murphy—Sheldon demonstrates discipline and flexibility. For some singers the lyrics of “I’m Just a Lucky So-and-So” can sloppily slip and slide out of tune and destroy the song’s bluesy swagger. But Sheldon is devilishly coquettish and pleasingly in tune. She also demonstrates leadership; from her lips, “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” jumps to attention and quickens the pulse, with Menagon and Meyer right in step. Sheldon’s inventiveness and keen harmonic intuition transfer to the keys, as in the rendition of Steve Swallow’s “Eiderdown.”
An added jewel to the release is the recently departed tenor man David “Fathead” Newman. Get an earful of Sheldon and Newman joyously trading ideas on “Baby, Baby All the Time.” Harvest reflects patience and a selective eye of the best seeds to sow. www.JazzedMedia.com.