Sheila Cooper
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Sheila Cooper


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"JAZZTIMES Magazine, Sept 2008"

Christopher Loudon -- Jazztimes Magazine, Sept 2008

There are female singers of the Carmen McRae school, the Sarah Vaughan school, the Betty Carter school, the Ella school, the cool Anita O’Day-June Christy-Chris Connor school, etc. But Canadian-born, Vienna-based Sheila Cooper is the first I’ve encountered who is so obviously a graduate of the Doris Day school. At times throughout Tales of Love and Longing, the similarity to Day is downright spooky. Closer listening reveals that, where Day’s notes were strung together like cultured pearls--creamy, luscious and perfectly round--Cooper’s are closer to the freshwater variety: smokier, more angular and less precisely uniform, yet fully as beautiful.
Cooper is further unique among her contemporaries in that she’s equally accomplished as a saxophonist. With Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer as her sole accompanist, the combination makes for 10 uniquely appealing tracks. As the pair navigates nine standards and one original (Cooper’s own impressive “I Gravitate to You”), the mood remains soft and mellow (reminiscent of the velvety atmosphere created by Day on both 1957’s Day by Night and her 1961 union with Andre Previn on Duet), with Cooper alternating between hauntingly naked sax licks and languorous vocals and Pauer providing precisely the right degree of masterly understated support.

- Jazztimes

"Whole Note Magazine -- Toronto"

Lesley Mitchell-Clarke
Special to The Whole Note

For her third album as vocalist, saxophonist and arranger, uber-talented and quirky Canadian-born jazz artist Sheila Cooper has chosen to express herself in duo format with the acclaimed Austrian pianist, Fritz Pauer – alternating between saxophone and vocal duets. Ms. Cooper has long been one of the jazz world’s best-kept secrets. Residing in Vienna since 2006, She had previously spent a number of years in New York City, recording, touring and performing with her own quartet, as well as with top international musicians such as Dave Leibman and Renee Rosnes.

Tales of Love and Longing is a series of intimately told musical stories (nine standards and one original), and begins with a simple and gorgeous arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s rarely performed “Winter Moon”. Austrian piano icon Fritz Pauer has an impossibly facile and yet sensitive touch, matched only by Cooper’s sonorous, multi-textural saxophone sound. Her instrument sings with a genderless human ache. As a vocalist, Cooper is a no-nonsense, in-tune purist in the mode of Julie London or the technically superior Helen Merrill in her fabulous prime. Every note is placed perfectly, with a knowing, sadder-but-wiser nuance.

A stand-out is Tommy Wolf’s “I’m a Fool to Want You”. With such a melodramatic lyric, a singer might be tempted to chew up the scenery. Not so for the ever-tasteful Ms. Cooper, who wears her jazz vocal hat on this track. She has, instead, positioned the tune with an un-cluttered elegance, while rendering her vocal with a dollop of plaintive longing. Pauer constructs another flawless solo on this tune. His prestigious piano chops are simply breathtaking. By the way, Sheila Cooper can also swing--as she does on Irving Berlin’s jaunty “How Deep is the Ocean”. This CD is a “must-have” for any jazz lover, as there’s no doubt that it will be a perpetual joy.

- Leslie Mitchell-Clark, Whole Note Magazine

"Tucson Citizen, Arizona"

"Tales of Love and Longing"
(Grade: A) by CHUCK GRAHAM

Just in time for a hot summer season comes this extremely cool collection of ballads perfect for martini evenings on the patio. Sheila Cooper is a subtly dramatic storytelling vocalist and alto sax player who creates the pictures while Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer sets the frames.
Listening to the heartfelt empathy between these two is like watching dream weavers create poetic tapestries in the air. Everything shimmers, yet every song is weighted with the tension of minor keys and thoughtful rumination. Broken hearts are never sunny places.
With all the tracks having a slow to moderate tempo, the excitement comes from feeling so much intensity in the interplay between Cooper and Pauer. Whether she is singing or playing alto, her music has a plaintive quality that gives every phrase extra poignancy. Pauer answers this with his own feathery accompaniment that, in a way, comforts Cooper. Together they create musical moments that could be considered blues for the very sophisticated.

- Tucson Citizen

"Palo Alto News, California"


This album brims with extraordinary performances that are simultaneously hot and cool. Through her lush, honeyed vocals and her sultry sax passages, Cooper proves magnetic. Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer is a perfect accompanist on this fine collection, which exudes reflection and yearning.

- Palo Alto News

"Die Presse, Austria"

PERFORMANCE. She exchanged Broadway for Mariahilfer Straße – That´s good, thank you very much.

Sheila Cooper. It must be said to all pessimists and Vienna-defeatists: The fence, behind which the grass grows greener, always has two sides. Sheila Cooper, who was born in Canada, has chosen Vienna over New York and exchanged Broadway for Mariahilfer Straße. In New York she had already gotten praise from saxophone-hero Lee Konitz and played with stars like Clark Terry and Kenny Wheeler. The saxophonist and singer brought in two acclaimed albums, one of which is the yearning “World in Slumber”, and now the first Austrian collection of songs has arisen. For this album “Tales of Love and Longing” she chose the one and only Fritz Pauer to converse with her in this duo-project. Ten meaningful ballads, from “I’m A Fool To Want You” to “Winter Moon” are dealing with the eternal human questions of love, loneliness, doubt and confidence. Cooper charms with multi-faceted saxophone-playing, and like every great singer she not only knows how to fascinate with notes, but with deep silence.

Sheila Cooper. Den Pessimisten und Wien-Defätisten sei gesagt: Der Zaun, hinterdem das Gras grüner leuchtet, hat stats zwei Seiten. Die gebürtige Kanadierin Sheila Cooper nahm Wien von New York aus in dem Fokus und entschied sich dafür, den Broadway gegen die Mariahilfer Straße einzutauschen. Dabei erfuhr sie im Big Apple schon heftiges Lob durch Saxofon-Hero Lee Konitz, spielte mit Granden wie Clark Terry und Kenny Wheeler. Zwei akklamierte Alben, darunter sehnsuchtsvolle “While the World Is In Slumber” hat die Saxofonistin bislang eingespielt, nun ist ihre erste “österreichische” Songlollektion entstanden. Niemand Geringerer als Österreichs Paradepianist Fritz Pauer wurde von ihr auserkoren, auf ihrem Duo-Projekt “Tales of Love and Longing” mit ihr zu konversieren. Zehn gehaltvolle Balladen von “I’m A Fool To Want You” bis zu “Winter Moon” locken aufs Terrain ewig menschlicher Fragen, zwischen Liebe, Einsamkeit, Zweifel und Zuversicht. Cooper charmiert mit facettenreich gespielten Saxofon. Und wie alle großen Vokalisten weiß sie nicht nur mit Tönen zu faszinieren, sondern stellt innigen Zusammenhang über die mal bedrohliche, dann wieder tröstliche Stille her. (Samir Köck).
- Culture/Kultur

"Hartford Courant"

Cooper Cultivates Sax-Voice Connection

Sheila Cooper has a fresh- sounding voice and a clear, intelligent, expressive way with lyrics. ... Her fresh ideas on alto bring new life to old tunes…she moves with grace from vocal choruses to alto saxophone solos. Never sounding the least bit gimmicky, she creates a smooth, one-person dialogue between voice and saxophone. (Owen McNally) - Owen McNally, The Hartford Courant

"Endless Caressing/Kuscheln Ohne Ende"

The New Yorker carves a place for herself out of the ghosts of tradition, revitalizing old songs into a powerpack of poetry, easily accomplished through her subtle charms. And with such tasteful warmth, such earthy originality, that one must really take one’s hat off to her.

Her voice is crystal-clear, and at times breathy, as if she had left her voice in the embrace of a smoky room. She sings her ballads with understatement and with barely any vibrato, as if cookng on a low flame, and so she brings her dish to doneness.

Her saxophone playing is virtually a continuation of vocal acrobatics through instrumental means. She phrases as if with her voice and releases a light, drifting tone that sounds as pure as a diamond. In doing so, she uses natural breath power so that one can nearly experience the airflow. Dry, vibrato-free, mellow, nearly breathy.

AND she has something to say.

Kuscheln Ohne Ende

Die New Yorkerin schafft sich ihre Freiräume aus dem Geiste der Tradition, revitalisiert die teilweise alten Stücke zu einem Powerpack aller Poesie, die in ihrem feinsinnigen Charme so einfach daherkommt. Und doch von so kulinarischer Wärme, von so deisseitiger Ursprünglichkeit ist, dass man den Hut ziehen muss.

Ihre Stimme ist kristalklar und doch zuweilen auch so rauchig abgehangen, als hätte sie ihre Stimmbander in der Räucherkammer behandeln lassen. Fast vibratoslos und mit Understatement singt sie ihre Balladen, als koche sie auf halber Flamme. Und doch bringt sie ihr “Süppchen” zum Kochen.

Ihr Saxophonspiel ist praktisch die Fortführung der “Kehlkopf-Akrobatik” mit instrumentalen Mitteln. Sie phrasiert wie mit ihrer Stimme und lässt dem Instrument einen schwerelos strömenden Ton entweichen, der rein wie ein Diamant klingt. Dabei nutzt sie den natürlichen Strom des Atems, so dass man zuweilen sogar den Luftstrom vernehmen kann. Trocken, vibratoslos, weich, fast gehaucht. Aber sie hat was zu erzählen.

- Die Rheinplatz, Germany

"Time Out London, UK"

Canadian-born, NYC-based singer and saxophonist Cooper has developed her own self-assured sound as both a vocalist and altoist - her refreshingly simple, unfussy delivery befits her Konitz-esque sax tone while her unpretentious singing draws on her narrative abilities over excessive reliance on technique. - Recommended

"All About Jazz -- New York"

…a beautiful and soulfully sung collection of real jazz standards delivered as pure jazz…. with the added bonus of her excellent saxophone playing. - Vox News

"JAZZWISE Magazine, UK"

"For her third album (her first on Candid), Canadian-born vocalist, sax player, composer and arranger Sheila Cooper has teamed up with the great Viennese pianist Fritz Pauer - and what an inspired and creative pairing it turns out to be. A 10-track collection of ballads, Tales of Love and Longing is a recording of incredible warmth and intimacy. Cooper and Pauer seem to be extraordinarily attentive to each other's musical perspectives, whether in the chilly desolation they bring to "Winter Moon", the enormous depth of feeling that underpins "I'm a Fool to Want You", their achingly beautiful reading of "I DIdn't Know About Love" or the instrumental tour de force "How Deep is the Ocean". The excellent recorded sound perfectly complements the duo's carefully nuanced approach. Having honed her skills playing with giants such as Clark Terry and Kenny Wheeler, Cooper's vocal and instrumental talents have earned her praise from Lee Konitz and Bob Dorough among others. Clearly well deserved, on this evidence." - JAZZWISE Magazine, UK


AS A LEADER (on vocals and alto saxophone):

"Kiss and Tell" featuring Gary Versace, piano, organ and accordian; Ed Howard, acoustic bass; and Billy Drummond, drums)

"Tales of Love and Longing", with Fritz Pauer, piano (Candid Records 2007-08)

"While The World Is In Slumber", with John Hart, guitar, Chris Berger, acoustic bass, Marcello Pelliteri, drums (Panorama Records 2003)

"Since You Were Mine", with Renee Rosnes, piano, Scott Colley, acoustic bass, Billy Drummond, drums
(Panorama Records, 1999)


"Reinventing the World" Andy Middleton, featuring Kenny Wheeler, on alto saxophone and as co-producer (Intuition Records 2003)

"Urban Soundscapes" NewYorkestra Big Band, on alto saxophone and flute (Seascape Records 2004)

"Nomad's Notebook" Andy Middleton with Ralph Towner and Dave Holland, as co-producer (Intuition Records, 1999)



“…the most interesting singer to emerge in the last 10 years. Exceptional among her colleagues is the fact that she is also a very talented saxophone player.” ALL ABOUT JAZZ ITALY

“Cooper is further unique among her contemporaries in that she’s equally accomplished as a saxophonist…Cooper alternates between hauntingly naked sax licks and languorous vocals…” JAZZTIMES MAGAZINE, USA

“Canadian-born, NYC-based singer and saxophonist Cooper has developed her own self-assured sound as both a vocalist and altoist - her refreshingly simple, unfussy delivery befits her Konitz-esque sax tone while her unpretentious singing draws on her narrative abilities over excessive reliance on technique.” RECOMMENDED. TIMEOUT LONDON, UK

“Sheila Cooper is a jazz import from Canada and utterly a multi-talent. She not only plays alto saxophone, but also has an equally wonderful command of her voice. Purely sung melodies are followed by effortless saxophone improvisations. It is obvious that she lives in the moment with each instrument.” JAZZ DIMENSIONS, GERMANY

Alto saxophonist and vocalist Sheila Cooper has been noted repeatedly in the international jazz press not only for her mastery uncommon in one who is both a singer and a horn player, but also as a musician who plays and sings with great emotional depth -- “incredible warmth and intimacy…enormous depth of feeling” (Jazzwise Magazine,UK) -- “a subtly dramatic storytelling vocalist and alto sax player …Whether she is singing or playing alto, her music has a plaintive quality that gives every phrase extra poignancy… it is blues for the very sophisticated.” (Tucson Citizen, USA).

Now with “Kiss and Tell”, her upcoming release, Sheila Cooper brings her songwriting skills to the fore, with eight inspired new compositions that match Sheila’s emotional breadth as a performer, from humorous (“Man Overboard”, “Just Be Livin’ In It”), to romantic (“Kiss and Tell”) to searching (“Phoenix Rising”, “The Home Inside My Heart”). Backed by master New York musicians Gary Versace on piano, organ, and accordian, Ed Howard on acoustic bass, and Billy Drummond on drums, with guest appearances by guitarist John Hart and percussionist Luis Ribeiro, Sheila and her band create grooving, soulful and impassioned moods on these originals and the fresh reworkings of standards that complete the set.

Born and raised in Canada, Sheila honed her craft through New York City’s jazz training grounds and has recorded and performed with internationally-known musicians such as David Liebman, Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Nancy Wilson, Renee Rosnes, Scott Colley and Clark Terry. From her former home base in New York City, Sheila toured Europe as a leader for ten years and appeared with her quartet in many concerts, clubs and festivals in Canada and the US. Sheila’s musical life has also brought her to Japan and, back in New York, to the Broadway stage where she appeared as actress, saxophonist and vocalist in the Joel Grey revival of “Cabaret”.

“Tales of Love and Longing”, a set of duets with revered Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer, was released internationally on the London jazz label Candid Records in spring 2008 to worldwide critical acclaim, and evolved from the collaboration with Fritz that began after Sheila left jazz mecca New York City for Vienna in late 2006. Her third album as vocalist, saxophonist and co-arranger contains 10 stunning ballads with themes ranging from loss and longing to hope and promise.

Cooper’s debut album “Since You Were Mine” was released in 2000 (Panorama Records) and contained a mix of familiar and seldom-heard songs featuring Renee Rosnes, Billy Drummond and Scott Colley. It was quickly described as “the best jazz vocal debut” in many years (Doug Moody, "Moody's Mood" KMFB-FM, California, USA). Her second album “While the World is in Slumber” featuring John Hart, Marcello Pellitteri and Chris Berger also showcased Sheila’s trademark quirky yet elegant arranging skills. In contrast to the debut album, it included two original compositions (one vocal, one instrumental).

When asked whether she prefers playing her saxophone or singing, Sheila replies, “I love the one I’m with: the saxophone with its groove, energy and big sound offers the possibility to discover something new with each solo, and singing, on the other hand, enables me to tell completely personal stories and live them out in 5 or 6 minutes.” As music journalist/author Will Friedwald says in the album’s liner notes: “it takes an uncommon talent to master both muses.”