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CD: Cécile McLorin Salvant - Dreams and Daggers | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Cécile McLorin Salvant - Dreams and Daggers

CD: Cécile McLorin Salvant - Dreams and Daggers

The vocalist and songwriter delivers one of the great live jazz albums

Multifariously beautiful: vocalist and songwriter Cécile McLorin Salvant

With her third recording for Mack Avenue, Grammy Award-winning vocalist and songwriter Cécile McLorin Salvant has delivered a vocal jazz album for the ages. A 2CD set recorded live at NYC’s renowned Village Vanguard, the fascinating track list juxtaposes jazz standards, vaudeville songs, blues and more. A number of studio recorded originals sprinkled throughout, featuring the exquisite playing of the Catalyst Quartet, offer an intriguing commentary on the live material.

Having immersed herself in early jazz and blues, it’s no surprise to see McLorin Salvant dusting down the glorious “You’ve Got To Give Me Some”, a song associated with one of her touchstones, Bessie Smith, the lyrics of which would make the Carry On scriptwriters blush.

The singer’s ability to completely reinvent evergreens is equally pronounced, as evidenced by a brace of classics penned by nonagenarian singer-songwriter Bob Dorough, “Devil May Care” and “Nothing Like You” (the latter co-written with Fran Landesman), as well as fearlessly virtuosic takes on “The Best Thing For You (Would Be Me)” and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”. With music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Langston Hughes, “Somehow I Never Could Believe” from the opera Street Scene, heard here as an almost 10-minute mini-suite, is a revelation.

In pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist and arranger Paul Sikivie, and drummer Lawrence Leathers, McLorin Salvant has surrounded herself with an exceptional and inventive trio, forging a musical bond that is so close it allows her to inhabit her repertoire completely and take the music in any direction she pleases. The sensitivity to dynamics, in particular, on songs such as “Never Will I Marry”, where the band suddenly flips from a whisper to a roar, can take the breath away.

But it’s McLorin Salvant’s captivating timbre and the way in which she ornaments the melodic line in such multifariously beautiful ways that elevates this to greatness.

@MrPeterQuinn

Watch a clip of Cécile McLorin Salvant performing "You're My Thrill"

The sensitivity to dynamics, where the band suddenly flips from a whisper to a roar, can take the breath away

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Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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