We have distressingly few artists left who have seen the birth of musical styles and have worked alongside people whom we now think of as almost mythical figures – Frank Sinatra; Bing Crosby; Louis Armstrong; Billie Holiday…the existing footage of them seems to have been plucked straight from a film, it’s difficult to imagine them as they tirelessly worked to the pinnacle of their chosen field.
One artist who, without question, has journeyed through music history, working alongside legends such as these, is Salena Jones. Although a name not known by some, she was at the birth of rhythm and blues, played and jammed with jazz greats and has sold out stages across the world over seven decades. There are few who can boast that they worked alongside Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis and Antonio Carlos Jobim, but Salena is one such artist, forming her own show with the backing of The Blues Express Orchestra, featuring one of the greatest of all saxophone players, King Curtis.
Like many jazz singers, her performances are not about songs she herself has written but about putting her very individual stamp on standards written by others, be it Cab Calloway, Rodgers and Hart or Lennon and McCartney. With her beautifully rich, teasing vocals, she can both turn a song into a heart-rending torch-song or a swingin’ toon, acting as host for a song, allowing the lyrics and melodies space to breathe.
To celebrate her extraordinarily long career, without a single great and with 43 (and counting) albums, Salena will play a special show at the Purcell Room at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 23rd September. Tickets are guaranteed to sell out, so hop to it.
Buy tickets here