The First Presbyterian Church of Philipstown will kick off its Jazz Vespers Series at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, with Sheila Jordan, vocalist and winner of the 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award. Cameron Brown, on bass, and Tony Jefferson, on drums, will join her on the bandstand.

Jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan
Jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan

Jordan’s first influence was Charlie Parker. She was part of a trio called Skeeter, Mitch, and Jean (she was Jean), which composed lyrics to Parker’s solos and would sing them in a manner similar to the popular jazz vocal group, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

In 1951, she moved to New York, married Charlie Parker’s pianist Duke Jordan, and studied harmony with jazz pianist, Lennie Tristano. However, Parker remained her greatest influence. She began recording in the 1960s, but it was not until the 1970s that jazz audiences began to appreciate her unique vocal style.

The Jazz Vespers band will also feature Rob Scheps, on sax and flute, and Tom McCoy, First Presbyterian Church of Philipstown’s house pianist/arranger/band leader in a melding of jazz and worship.

Bruce Geller will speak on the theme, “Confirmation,” focusing on the Sermon on the Mount. The Jazz Vespers service is free and open to all. Contact the First Presbyterian Church of Philipstown at 845-265-3220. Visit

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