Elli Fordyce
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Elli Fordyce


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"Scott Yanow on Elli Fordyce"

While listening to the music on this CD, which
consists of thoughtful renditions of 13 standards, two
questions come immediately to mind. How can the singer
possibly be 70 when her voice can pass for 40? And
where has she been all of this time?

The second question is easier to answer than the
first. After an early start as a singer, Elli Fordyce
took time off to have a family before returning for 10 years of touring and performing all over the United States and the nearby area in a countless number of settings. A serious
car accident contributed to her decision to stop singing
for a long period of time, but now she is back and in
prime form.

Elli has a very attractive style, putting a lot of
feeling into the lyrics she interprets while always
swinging; her phrasing is quite infectious. Joined by
some of her favorite musicians (including the tasteful
pianist Harry Whitaker and occasional contributions
from Joe Magnarelli on flugelhorn) and five
charming vocal duets with Jim Malloy, she has finally
made her recording debut with Something STILL Cool.
Her versions of such songs as "When Sunny Gets Blue,"
"Don't Blame Me," "It Could Happen To You," a touching
"Something Cool" and her duet with Malloy on "Almost
Like Being In Love" are among the highlights but
every selection has much to offer. Although I can hear
a bit of Anita O'Day in spots, Elli has her own sound
and approach, making each song sound like her own.

As for the initial question, the only answer I can
come up with is that this CD is evidence that jazz
keeps one young.

Scott Yanow, author of nine books on jazz including
Jazz On Film, Jazz On Record 1917-76 and Trumpet Kings - Scott Yanow

"Elli Fordyce with Jim Malloy, “Something STILL Cool”"

A New York area singer whose love affair with jazz has survived an accident and years of absence to raise a family, Elli Fordyce makes her recording debut with “Something Still Cool” and the young and tender age of 70. Still a looker and possessing a mature but sensuous vocal style, the lady delivers new renditions to familiar standards. Fordyce enlists vocal help by performing duets with local jazz singer Jim Malloy on such songs as “Hey There,” “One Note Samba,” “Almost Like Being In Love” and “I Thought About You.”

The repertoire also includes Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi,” Dorothy Fields’s “Don’t Blame Me,” the Burke/Van Heusen classic, “Imagination” plus other Gershwin and Lerner songs. The music is charming and warmly conveyed by Fordyce to include a little scatting on “It Could Happen To You.

The personnel lists pianists Harry Whitaker and David Epstein, bassist Mark Wade, drummer Joe Strasser, Samuel Torres on percussions and Joe Magnarelli on the trumpet. There’s nothing complicated here to analyze, the music is pleasant light jazz vocals performed by a remarkable lady who takes a page from of the Great American Songbook and spins her own jazzy style on “Something Still Cool.”

Year: 2008
Label: Self Published
Artist Web: www.ellifordyce.net

-- Edward Blanco
- www.eJazzNews

"Elli Fordyce; Live Recording To Take Place in Manhattan"

Artist Interview by: Joe Montague

There is an old cliché that goes something like this, ‘If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it probably is a duck.’ That cliché may apply to some people and most certainly is applicable to ducks, but it relates in no way to the life of jazz singer Elli Fordyce or the attitude with which she approaches her life. The singer who will be turning seventy-years old on March 31, demonstrates no signs of slowing down and does not fit the stereotype of someone about to join the septuagenarian club. As my two conversations and several emails with this fun loving lady revealed, she seems to be forever a whirlwind of activity and is continually seeking out fresh challenges.

On April 1 at Manhattan’s The Jazz Gallery located in New York City, Fordyce will have a belated birthday celebration while recording a live album. Fordyce says of the afternoon performance (2 pm – 5 pm) “Half of the songs are new for me and half of the songs are very comfortable and easy for me, they are standards. Some of them are things that I have been thinking about for a long time and I haven’t had a chance to record yet. I am going to relax and enjoy all of it.”

Also appeared in:

“I had been working on a studio recording off and on for a number of years in different formats, and with different producers,” Fordyce says. It did not seem things were progressing to her satisfaction so she suggested to her producer that the next time they lay down vocal tracks, they try a live recording.

“I am just not the same performer in the studio as I am live. That was the reason for the choice to do this now and to do it as a live recording,” the singer says.

Fordyce says, “There are several songs from my old repertoire in the seventies. Some of the songs are beautiful and were top forty hits at the time. We are still picking and choosing the songs and some may not end up on the record.”

“Some of the songs I just truly love and one of those is Johnny Mandel’s “Where Do You Start?” He wrote the music and the Bergmans (Alan and Marilyn) wrote the lyrics.”

“Another song that isn’t heard from often is “Where Am I Going?” I have three songs in this repertoire that start with “where,” which is a little bit funny. “Where Am I Going?” is from the Broadway musical and movie Sweet Charity. Shirley MacLaine sang it in the movie. I fell in love with it and learned it in 1970. “Where Am I Going?” is written by Marvin Hamlisch and Dorothy Fields,” says Fordyce.

Fordyce reflects further upon the rather cynical lyrics for “Where Am I Going?” saying, “There is a line that says, 'No matter where I run, I meet myself there.' That has always rocked me because it is so much of what many people do not get (about life). They think, ‘I am not happy here so I will switch jobs, I will switch husbands or whatever, and they do not realize that they are still going to be the same person. It may work for a minute, but you have to get to yourself.”

Other songs that may make it to the live recording or perhaps performed on April 1 include “A Child Is Born,” which Fordyce refers to as beautiful and touching, and “Waltz For Debbie.” Bill Evans originally penned the music for the later tune and Alec Wilder wrote the words. People such as, Frank Sinatra, Mitch Miller, Marian McPartland, Stan Getz, Clark Terry, Zoot Zims, as well as Cab Calloway, Doc Severinson and Bob Brookmeyer recorded Wilder’s music.

Fordyce is also considering for the live recording the Jimmy Webb song “Didn’t We?” Just two weeks before The Jazz Gallery gig, she was still undecided if the song would be included during the afternoon performance. The songwriter Webb remains one of America’s most prolific modern day writers who penned such popular songs as “Up, Up And Away,” “Wichita Lineman” and “MacArthur Park.”

On April 1, pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist Neal Miner, drummer Joe Strasser, Samuel Torres (percussion) and flautist/saxman Aaron Heick will accompany Elli Fordyce. Strasser and Torres have previously recorded with the singer.

The live recording will be the second recent release by Fordyce whose CD Something Still Cool will soon hit the streets. What is incredibly amazing is the singer took a fifteen-year hiatus from her singing and only returned to her music career when she was in her fifties. I wondered if the time away had influenced her song selection. She says that during the first half of her career, she was not often given the opportunity to perform from a repertoire that included jazz standards. Her music consisted more of pop-oriented tunes that often were in the top forty charts. It was only occasionally that she found herself singing these tunes with any sense of jazz colors.

“A song that I loved back in the day was Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours,” which he did in the fifties (from the record In The Wee Small Hours-1955). I thought it was beautiful then and I still do. It is a beautifully constructed song,” she says.

Fordyce tells me another song that she is fond of is “Where Do You Start?” “I am not exactly sure of the publication date, but it is certainly not from the classic jazz, standard time period. I think Shirley Horn recorded it (Here’s To Life-1992), so we are talking fifteen years at the most since it has been around. To me it is pretty new,” she says.

The title of her CD Something Still Cool was inspired by the June Christy song, “Something Cool” from the 10-inch record of the same name that was first released in 1954, and later as a 12-inch record in 1955. Fordyce was still a teenager when Christy was hitting full stride and is the woman who many credit as defining the cool jazz idiom for vocalists.

“June was the one who knocked my socks off. Something Cool was her first album as a solo singer and I thought this is just the most romantic song. I didn’t have a clue what the song meant at age fifteen, but later in life when I began singing jazz again (in her fifties), this was one of the first songs to come to my mind. I now understood what that song was saying and could get really involved with that story.

“There was another song from that same album (Something Cool) “It Could Happen To You,” and I have been singing it ever since then. The words are fun, the beat is fun and it is cool jazz. It doesn’t have anything depressing in the story, which is important to me,” she says.

Elli Fordyce is a long way removed from the teenager who used to hang out with Bobby Darin in high school and maintained a friendship with the singer/actor throughout most of his life. She has traveled far from the 17-year old who battled insecurity when her family moved to a different town during her senior year of high school. She found comfort with a friend listening for many hours to June Christy’s music.

In times that are more recent, Fordyce began an acting career in her sixties and recently joined the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. Most of Fordyce’s work was shot for small budget productions, but she talks enthusiastically about the projects and looks eagerly towards more acting gigs.

If you are thinking about making the trek over to The Jazz Gallery on April 1 to take in Fordyce’s live recording, something tells me you are in for a special treat. She says of her approach to a song, “When I go into the story, it is like a walking movie for me. When I am singing something, I am in it; I am not talking about it.”

Also appeared in:
- www.jazzreview.com

"Interview: Jazz vocalist Elli Fordyce, Bobby Darin's High School Classmate and Friend"

From longer interview at http://darinland.com/Elli-Fordyce-Interview.html: [Elli Fordyce and Bobby Darin] both faced major physical and personal obstacles in their struggles to succeed, and both confronted those obstacles with great strength of character and dedication. In Bobby's case, he had to overcome his poor upbringing and a rheumatic heart. In Elli's case, she has had to overcome feelings of self-doubt and a devastating car accident that left her physically and spiritually injured.... Clearly, Elli possess many of these same qualities, as evidenced in her talent, dedication and her refusal to let anything stand in the way of her dreams. As she says, 'It's never too late.'

-- Michael Macomber [michael@darinland.com]

- www.Darinland.com

"Elli Fordyce, Something STILL Cool on "Animajazz' and "A Voice, A Soul""

It's been a real pleasure to receive and to listen your voice that I appreciate very much. I'll promote with passion your CD [on] my 'A Voice, A Soul,' a specific program dedicated to International Jazz Voices.... The listeners of 'Animajazz' and 'A Voice, A Soul' are from all Continents, weekly promotion is international to [many] thousands of Jazz organizers, Labels, owners of Jazz Clubs, Promoters, Associations, Critics, Musicians and Passionists, so it's real publicity for the artists in my programs....

-- Bruno Pollacci [brpollac@tin.it]

- http://www.animajazz.it

"Elli Fordyce CD is playing at jazzbluestour.nl"

And again, a great CD from a "Jazz-Diva," at least that's my opinion listening [to] Elli's great CD!!! She has that full, mature vocal style which most young vocalists cannot bring (yet), so I really like what I hear and the CD will be an asset to my program. Thanks so much!... My pleasure [for my] reaction [to] your CD, already listened to it 3 times and it will be the utmost pleasure to airplay it on my program [from] February 5.... Respect for the album and your skills and lots of good luck.

-- Joost van Steen [jvsnld@gmail.com]

- http://www.jazzbluestour.nl

"Elli Fordyce being played in New Zealand"

I listened to Elli Fordyce this morning as I opened your packages. My notes on the CD read most favorably and as I speak it is being ripped to be loaded onto George Jazz -- Fav track on the CD being "It Could Happen To You" but only 'cos I do like my jazz up-tempo as a rule. Very cool and classy CD release. Great work on there by the rest of the band with Joe Magnarelli playing beautifully. Elli does indeed have a smooth rich voice. I too heard Anita O'Day in there and perhaps a tiny bit of Blossom Dearie, but as the liner notes say, Elli has a wonderful voice of her own.

-- Mark Robinson [markrobbo@clear.net.nz]

- www.georgefm.co.nz/jazz

"Elli Fordyce at Kurio"

For those of you in the New York area I wanted to share one of my fabulous buddies, Elli Fordyce, who's been doing a run at Kurio. Elli is a fantastic jazz artist and 2/2/08 is her closing night. I was there on opening night and had a fantastic time. The drinks were great, ambience was cozy, warm and intimate and the performance was extraordinary. Elli is a tasty delight for a cold Saturday night among friends. I'll be there this evening. I'd love to see you and share a delicious experience."

-- Adela M. Rubio [adela@adelarubio.com]

ENERGY CAFÉ LIVE, www.adelarubio.com
- www.energycafelive.ning.com

"ELLI FORDYCE/Something Still Cool"

Talk about back in the day, Fordyce used to pal around with Bobby Darin. If she wants to make a back-in-the-day album, just get out of her way. Casting herself in a classic jazz vocal mode with a bunch of largely cool-school back-in-the-day tunes, this recalls an era from when "diva" didn't mean spoiled brat -- at least in public. Equal parts classy, sassy and soulful, jazz vocal fans with a taste for a lite but real journey through the past will have a good time here.

-- CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Volume 31/Number 89, MIDWEST RECORD

"What is- Sweet?"

I will tell you what is sweet, the [release] I am writing you about, "Something STILL Cool," which I received yesterday by post.... have added these tracks to radioIO Vocal Jazz for immediate play, look at dis!

Almost Like Being In Love (w/ Jim Malloy)
Don't Blame
Hey There (w/ Jim Malloy)
I Thought About You (w/ Jim Malloy)
It Could Happen To You
Love Is Here To Stay (w/ Jim Malloy)
One Note Samba (w/ Jim Malloy)
Something Still Cool
They Can't Take That Away From Me
When Sunny Gets Blue
Wouldn't It Be Loverly?

Elli? Ella? What's the difference! Ha! Elli is seventy?... Phew. Cut me a break here, she sounds like a 23 year old. Now THAT is sweet."


"Hello Elli: Greetings from drmike:

I am enjoying your music so much! Your CD was a great surprise for me. I always [love] discovering great talent for our audience. I am spinning live now and have just loaded a back to back coming up soon with "Almost Like Being in Love" and "Dindi." I also like the team of your voice and Jim[my]'s. Please let Jim[my] know my appreciation. Our audience is very lucky to have your new tracks for their enjoyment at www.radioIO.com.

drmike [drmike@radioio.com]

Dr. Michael E. Matheny
IO Real JAZZ Music Director/Smooth Jazz/Vocal Jazz
- www.RadioIO.com


Samples from her first CD, "Something STILL Cool," can be heard and downloaded from www.cdbaby.com/ellifordyce and your favorite downloading site and at www.ellifordyce.com. CD Number 2 will be out in 2009.



Originally from Manhattan, Elli Fordyce is a highly accomplished vocalist and actor. She has performed all over the New York Metro area and other U.S. and North American cities, including an appearance in the New York Cabaret Convention and various festivals. Elli also has numerous acting credits: Film -- September 12th, TV -- Dave Chappelle's Show, and Live Theatre -- Guys & Dolls.

Prior to returning to New York 30 years ago, Elli spent several periods away from her musical journey. The first was to devote herself to family and, unexpectedly, another was after a devastating accident on a snowy highway en route to a gig when the car carrying her quartet and equipment crashed into a disabled truck. A successful year-long tour of "Elli Fordyce And Her Favorite Things" ended abruptly, leaving scars of several kinds. Elli stopped singing for 15 years ("Not 'Happy Birthday,' not in the shower") and focused firmly on much needed physical and spiritual healing.

But her musical journey wasn't over. A ginger-colored Yorkie pup named Dindi (pronounced Gingy and meaning "little jewel" in Portuguese as well as it being the title of Elli's favorite Jobim bossa nova) got her back to singing. Elli discovered that Dindi loved to hear Elli sing it to her. Inspiration renewed, Elli joined a cabaret workshop taught by the brilliant MAC-Award-winning singer-songwriter Lina Koutrakos and soon after came under the influence of Barry Harris, the renowned jazz pianist and educator to whom she gives much of the credit for putting her squarely back on the path meant for her. Making a comeback was inevitable.

And come back Elli has! Her first CD, "Something STILL Cool," became an overnight sensation with rave reviews. "Whatever the term means ... you know it when you hear it. And Elli Fordyce is cool! ... as implied in the title, once cool, always cool, vintage cool ... Ms. Fordyce has the spirit and voice of one of the blessed, the spirit and stamina of eternal song." (Bob Gish, Jazz Improv-New York); "Fordyce's voice is lovely with strong command, a natural rhythmic touch and just a touch of a rough edge ... scatting with aplomb, she also shows a knack for the south-of-the-border sound .... a true showcase for a singer whom one wishes would have never had to give up singing for so long ... better late than never ... heartfelt version of "Something Cool" ... doesn't sing by rote, and her vocal ideas are full of imagination and personality, but neither does she detract from the beauty of the melody ... it is clear that Elli Fordyce knows ... the real meaning of 'cool.'" (Brad Walseth, www.jazzchicago.net) "I am enjoying your music so much! Your CD was a great surprise for me. I always [love] discovering great talent for our audience ... very lucky to have your new tracks for their enjoyment at radioIO." (drmike, www.radioIO.com). A wonderful review by Rob Lester may be read at http://www.talkinbroadway.com/sound/march2708.html.

And, to quote Elli, "It's never too late!"