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.