Catch Sheila Landis and Rick Matle at one of these upcoming shows...
SHEILA LANDIS is a remarkable singer born in Detroit, Michigan in 1953. Raised in Rochester Hills, Landis graduated in 1971 from Adams High School, excelling in choral music and creative writing. Captivated by the music of Billie Holiday in the 1972 film "Lady Sings the Blues", Landis abruptly changed her career focus from that of an English major at Oakland University to jazz chanteuse. She has been performing her unique amalgam of jazz, Brazilian music and blues since 1973. Landis absorbed the songs of the 1960's British Invasion; fell hard for the beats and catchy choruses of Motown; embraced 1970's funk and sweet soul harmonies of the Stylistics, later grooving to jazz-pop artists like Steely Dan and Sting.
Sheila's long-time collaborator and ultimate muse is guitarist/producer RICK MATLE. Matle earned his Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance from Oakland University in 1986. Matle's formative studies there included jazz and classical guitar, jazz composing as well as performances on guitar, bass, percussion and African drums. The influence of jazz guitarists such as Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery can be heard in Matle's playing. Matle also cites Pat Metheny, Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix as major influences. Rick plays solid bass and chordal accompaniment on the 7-string guitar, providing a lush carpet for Landis's melodic flights.
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Based in Michigan, Sheila Landis has been a significant jazz singer since her recording debut in 1973. She is a consistently inventive scat singer and improvises constantly, even when exploring well-known standards. She has teamed up with 7-string guitarist Rick Matle a countless number of times during the past two decades. On Beautiful Things the duo performs 14 songs, including two versions of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter.” A few of the numbers are taken from a live concert tribute to Ella Fitzgerald including an original, “When In Doubt, Make Coffee,” that is inspired by Ella’s version of “I Won’t Dance.” In addition to singing lyrics and scatting up a storm, Ms. Landis sometimes effectively imitates a trombone with her voice. Matle is quite self-sufficient as the rhythm section, augmenting his guitar playing with bass notes and engaging in plenty of spontaneous interplay with the adventurous singer, who sounds unlike anyone else. Among the highlights are “Fine Fat Daddy,” “Caravan, “Pennies From Heaven,” “In A Mellotone” and Matle’s feature on “Besame Mucho.” Beautiful Things, available from www.sheilalandis.com, is easily recommended. - Los Angeles Jazz Scene - CD Reviews
SheLan Records, whose recording stable consists solely of vocalist Sheila Landis and guitarist Rick Matle, celebrates its 20th anniversary with the latest collaboration of these two confederates on Colors of Brazil. The album is not all new, using some remixed material recorded as early as 1981. Other cuts come from the 21st annual Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival held in 2000. The duo has put together a musical potpourri made up of originals and familiar material, all with a Latin bent. Landis has long been known for her unconventional, but always ear-opening, approach to the music. One audacious track is "What a Difference a Day Made," not done the way Dinah Washington sang it. With a throbbing Latin beat provided by Matle plus quartet and driven by Dennis Sheridan's Latin percussion, Landis inserts bird calls, wordless vocalizing, and assorted other cries between the lyrics. On this one, she takes no prisoners. Standards are not spared from the inventive approach taken by Landis/Matle and friends. "Summertime" is an up-tempo South of the Border romp with Scott Petersen laying out significant licks on the soprano sax. "The Girl From Ipanema" is done in three languages -- Portuguese, English, and scat -- as Landis improvises, changing the phrasing and timing to suit her perception of this classic, and again, it's not the way Ella Fitzgerald sang it. Only a singer who has supreme self-assurance in her artistry and technical skills can get away doing these off the beaten track arrangements. As the session moves along, it becomes more and more obvious that Landis is perfectly confident that she can be on the mark with any note or any form of vocalizing, anytime she wants. Highly recommended. Dave Nathan