You may have seen the stories in the papers recently about this hugely important and influential performer active here in the 60’s and who then disappeared. Jackie Shane was a transgender star in an era when this was most unlikely, perhaps especially in 60’s Toronto. Appearing regularly at the Big Bop, the Brass Rail and the Saphire Tavern with dual trumpeter Frank Motley and his Motley Crew, Shane drew huge crowds. A single, William Bell’s “Any Other Way” was released in 1963, it charted and stayed a steady seller for years. Another single, Barrett Strong’s “Money” was released in 1966 and charted also. The shows at the Saphire in 1968 were so popular, it was decided to record a live LP. That rare LP, plus all the singles are now available on this Jackie Shane-approved, remarkably attractive, two-disc set. It had been rumoured that Shane had been murdered but she is very much alive and living in Nashville. With this set is a beautifully written biography written by our own Rob Bowman that finally tells her full story. The chaotic tale of the singles recordings is pretty much how the music scene worked then, but Bowman’s notes stress that Shane was, and is, a consummate entertainer, her vocals making the most of those studio recordings. But it’s the live CD that makes the set. The original tapes were found and several famous songs can now be added for a 70-minute concert. Soul standards sung in her inimitable way make up the bulk of the show, “High Heel Sneakers”, “Barefootin’” and “Knock On Wood” to name three; her total re-make of “You Are My Sunshine” will amaze you. But it’s the live versions of “Money” and “Any Other Way” that capture her in full flight. Each is extended with dramatic monologues that reflect her worldview and her everyday life. Most importantly though, they connect with the audience, something at which Shane was the master, elevating this recording to a much higher level. Frank Motley’s band was by now called The Hitchhikers, with Curley Bridges on organ, Wally Blair & King Herbert on saxes, Rollie Simmons on guitar, Ralph Blair on bass and Jimmy Butler on drums. Rob Bowman ends his notes with a description of a mural just off Yonge Street below Carlton that features Jackie Shane surrounded by images of BB King, Ronnie Hawkins, Glenn Gould, Diane Brooks, Muddy Waters, Gordon Lightfoot and Oscar Peterson. Listen to these discs and read the booklet, you’ll find out why. With her decision to resurface, she is contemplating a return to Toronto to treat us to a concert.

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