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Genre > Jazz
Bringin' ItIconic bassist Christian McBride has been doing what the title of his upcoming big band album implores for years: Bringin’ It. This highly anticipated release, which follows the Christian McBride Big Band’s 2011 Grammy® Award-winning debut, The Good Feeling, puts his status and skills as an all-around entertainer on full display. With a list of growing accolades including his recent appointment as Artistic Director at the Newport Jazz Festival, hosting shows on SiriusXM (“The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian”) and NPR (“Jazz Night in America,” as well as frequent online contributions to various programs including “All Things Considered”), speaking engagements, and occasional DJ performances under the alias DJ Brother Mister, he’s more than just a bandleader: Christian McBride is transcending that title to something more complete.
If it is true that jazz is a sponge for musicians to absorb and then squeeze out what they hear to produce their own sound, McBride has been “bringin’ it” for quite a long time. From his amazing quintet, Inside Straight, to his avant-garde leaning quartet, New Jawn, the contemporary sound of his fusion group, A Christian McBride Situation, to the critically acclaimed music he’s made with his trio, the bassist has always disseminated his own unique 360-degree view of jazz.
While the music played by the Christian McBride Big Band is on the cutting edge of 21st century large ensemble music, the orchestra’s presentation, like its sound, respects the past while looking forward. Danny Ray, the legendary stage announcer for James Brown, travels with the group to give the leader an old-school intro before playing his thoroughly modern music. “I love having the show aspect of it as well, with Danny Ray there, and being able to create somewhat of a show while also having Melissa there as our vocalist.”
That would be Melissa Walker, who graces Bringin’ It on two tracks: “Upside Down,” originally done by Brazilian superstar Djavan, and the unlikely slick arrangement of “Mr. Bojangles.” In addition to maintaining a career in jazz, Walker is also the co-founder of Jazz House Kids, the award winning jazz education center…and she’s Mrs. Christian McBride.
Only two tracks on this 11-song set were not arranged by the leader: the “Upside Down” arrangement was contributed by Norman Simmons, while “Optimism” is from the person he’s known the longest in his band, trombonist Steve Davis. Davis has the distinction of being the very last Jazz Messenger that Art Blakey hired before he died in 1990.
“I saw that last Jazz Messengers band that Steve was in,” McBride remembers. “Blakey was a huge influence on me and because of that, Steve and I share the same compositional and arranging DNA. You see, even though I’ve been influenced by every great big band and every great arranger I’ve ever heard, three of my greatest influences – not just as composers but also as improvisers – are Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter and Cedar Walton. I mean before, after and during the period when they were with Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers.”
McBride played bass for Freddie Hubbard’s quintet for nearly three years starting when he was 18. One of the songs he loved to play with the legendary trumpeter was “Thermo.” A few years ago he brought this arrangement to a gig with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. When the four trumpeters had to work hard to go over the riffs in the tune, McBride felt a certain pride. “I just thought that Freddie was somewhere up in heaven laughing,” says McBride.
Perennial poll-topping arranger Maria Schneider has also been an influence on McBride. He cites times when he’d just bug her for hours, peppering her with questions, particularly on a recent trip to Europe. He honors her with his rendition of “I Thought About You.” “She has an arrangement of ‘Giant Steps’ where she arranged the melody over a D pedal so I said let me try something like that,” McBride recounts. “That’s where that came from. She really gave me a lot of information and has been a great influence on me.”
Another aspect that has helped the bassist find his voice as an arranger is the fact that, except for drummer Quincy Phillips, this is the exact same band that recorded with him six years ago. “These guys know my sound. They know my style. They know what my compositional and arranging DNA is. I’ve been able to keep the exact same unit, so like Duke Ellington used to do, I can write for my guys because I know their sound and style.
“As for my originals, they all have been recorded with my small groups,” he continues on about the tracks “Gettin’ To It,” “Youthful Bliss,” and “Used’ta Could.” “As an arranger I’m still in the early stages of my development so it seems to me the best way to really make my hopeful ascension into a better arranger is to obviously take a song I’ve already written and try to add to that and make it a worthy large ensemble song.”
While the Wes Montgomery smoker “Full House” isn’t a McBride original, it is part of his development as an arranger – it’s a big band chart he first created for guitarist Russell Malone at Jazz Aspen in 2009. He says he’s tweaked it since then for his go-to guitarist Rodney Jones. For the McCoy Tyner classic “Sahara,” the bassist channeled his 20+ years of playing with the legendary Chick Corea, for which McBride won two of his five Grammys. Another one of his Grammys came from a co-op project with Tyner. “I always thought of Chick, in his early years, as being a branch from the tree of McCoy Tyner, if you will,” he commented.
McBride’s work ethic is evident in the challenge he set for himself on the steamy old ballad “In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” “I decided to torture myself by writing that arrangement in the key of B. To me that’s a very pretty key, but it is a very hard key for a double bass because I get to play no open strings,” McBride explains. “When I play it live, every bass player in the house comes to me and says, ‘is that in B? Why do you do that?’ Maybe it’s because I’m crazy, but I really wanted to do something difficult and keep myself on my toes.”
Planning to keep this group simmering while he simultaneously resurrects his Inside Straight band and introduces his new trio, Tip City, McBride is most excited to embrace the golden age of big bands while they continue bringin’ it with more gigs and their first European tour. “With my big band I try to combine all of my journeys and goals as a musician and then try to put it in a wrapper of show business,” the five-time Grammy® Award-winner comments. “I really think in that sense I’m following something of a big band tradition.”1. Gettin’ To It
3. Youthful Bliss
4. I Thought About You
6. Upside Down
7. Full House
8. Mr. Bojangles
9. Used ’ta Could
10. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
$34.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Dreams And Daggers (Awaiting Repress)“You get a singer like this once in a generation or two.” – Wynton Marsalis
“Salvant has a supple, well-trained voice with spot-on pitch. (No vibrato-teases; no meandering warbles passing as melisma.) Her low notes go from husky to full-bodied; her high notes float purely and cleanly. When she scats, it’s not an ego trip but a musical game, where notes and syllables get to shape-shift.” – The New York Times Magazine
“She had emotional range, too, inhabiting different personas in the course of a song, sometimes even a phrase—delivering the lyrics in a faithful spirit while also commenting on them, mining them for unexpected drama and wit.” — The New Yorker
GRAMMY® Award-winning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant has had a remarkable rise to stardom in her professional career, and she’s taking another big leap forward with Dreams and Daggers, her third album for Mack Avenue Records.
The songs on this album are of dreams and daggers. The daggers have been used at times to attack, at times to defend. For power, no doubt, to take it, to keep it. The dreams are the ones I caught looking out a window, or from the light sleep before the deep. I don't always know what they mean, but they are the ones I was able to keep. And yet dreams can be desires too. I wrote them down to make them true. That we may bring our wildness into view. That we may be unruled and unruly.LP 1
1. And Yet
2. Devil May Care
3. Mad About The Boy
4. Sam Jones' Blues
6. Never Will I Marry
7. Somehow I Could Never Believe
8. If A Girl Isn't Pretty
9. Red Instead
10. Runnin' Wild
1. The Best Thing For You (Would Be Me)
2. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
3. You're My Thrill
4. Tell Me what they're Saying Can't Be true
5. Nothing Like You
6. You've Got To Give Me Some
7. The Worm
1. My Man's Gone Now
2. Let's Face The Music And Dance
3. Si J'etais Blanche
5. Wild Women Don't Have The Blues
6. You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me
$44.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 3 LPs SealedAWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
For One To LoveCécile McLorin Salvant, the wildly talented 25-year-old singer, songwriter, visual artist and illustrator, became a breakout star with 2013's 'WomanChild.' Her follow-up, 'For One To Love,' is a courageous statement of contrast: love and longing, delight and desire.
Cécile composed five original songs for 'For One To Love.' Each of these tunes explore the album's underlying themes and display Cécile's strong personality, sharp intellect, coy humor, unfettered romanticism, and penetrating honesty. The thematic elements continue to grow with a smoldering take on Burt Bacharach's bygone "Wives and Lovers" and "Growlin' Dan" by Blanche Calloway, the first woman to lead an all-male orchestra. "What's The Matter Now," originally popularized by Bessie Smith, is a juxtaposition of feel versus subject matter: a plea for fair treatment enclosed in a playful blues. "Le Mal De Vivre," written by French singer Barbara in 1966, is a stark ballad performed by Cé cile in French.
'For One To Love' is a riotous showcase for this riveting voice: quivering highs and soul-shaking lows, all delivered with grace and style. Salvant has reunited with decorated young pianist Aaron Diehl, joined by his trio of Paul Sikivie on bass and Lawrence Leathers on drums. Together this ensemble swings and swirls, nimbly hanging on Cécile's every cry, snarl and coo. A gifted illustrator, Cécile accents the albums poignant music with original artwork.
Cécile was born in Miami, Fl and studied French law, baroque and jazz vocal performance in Aix-En-Provence before winning the 2010 Thelonious Monk competition. 'WomanChild' was praised by the NY Times, NPR, won Downbeat's Album of the Year and earned Cécile her first Grammy nomination. She now lives in Harlem. An extensive international tour is planned through 2015 including performances at the Newport Jazz Festival, Hollywood Bowl, La Villette (Paris) the Johannesburg Joy of Jazz Festival and London Jazz Festival.1. Fog
2. Growlin' Dan
3. Stepsister's Lament
4. Look At Me
5. Wives And Lovers
7. The Trolley Song
9. What's The Matter Now
10. Le Mal De Vivre
11. Somethin's Coming
$35.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
RoomIn a 2013 Q&A with JazzTimes, Lage described the Cline-Lage duo sound as “200 percent power,” and that’s exactly what comes through on ROOM: an inspired collection of originals and collaborative pieces that runs the full range from intricately composed and complex to free and spontaneous. Cline builds on the strength of his previous duo work with the likes of Elliott Sharp, Thurston Moore, Carla Bozulich, Marc Ribot and not least of all the late West Coast bassist Eric Von Essen. Lage, for his part, has worked in duo settings with David Grisman, Martin Taylor, John Abercrombie, Taylor Eigsti and others.
Producers: Nels Cline & Julian Lage
Nels Cline – electric & acoustic guitars
Julian Lage – electric & acoustic guitars1. Abstract 12
3. The Scent Of Light
4. Whispers From Eve
5. Blues, Too
6. Odd End
7. Freesia/The Bond
$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
MacroscopeMACROSCOPE, the fifth album and Mack Avenue debut by his adventurous trio The Nels Cline Singers, provides a measure of the long-running group’s staggering range. Captivating and continually surprising, the album finds the instrumental trio with the slyly deceptive name veering in one off-kilter direction only to suddenly be overwhelmed by another drastic stylistic shift, often within the space of a single tune. Serrated psychedelia becomes consumed by soulful Brasiliana, blissed-out electronica overwhelmed by garage-rock skronk. Then there’s the wholly unexpected “Red Before Orange,” where a howling Hendrix-inspired solo suddenly erupts in the middle of a slick lounge-jazz number, Cline unleashing the inner George Benson that few of us expected he even had.
“The title MACROSCOPE speaks to the idea of the mutt within,” Cline says, “the fact that I’m not in any one genre, and never have been. I was a rock and roll kid, but after hearing Coltrane and Miles and Weather Report, then Indian music and Nigerian pop and that sort of thing, there was no turning back. From that point on, the idea of purism just was not possible.
Produced by Nels Cline and David Breskin
Nels Cline – guitars, effects, voice, Quintronics Drum Buddy
Scott Amendola – drums, percussion, electronic treatments/loops, mbira
Trevor Dunn – basses, effects
Additional musician guests:
Yuka C. Honda – electric piano, OP-1
Cyro Baptista – percussion universe
Josh Jones – congas, other percussion
Zeena Parkins – electric harp1. Companion Piece
2. Canales’ Cabeza
4. Red Before Orange
5. The Wedding Band
6. Macroscopic (for Kusama-san)
7. Climb Down
8. Seven Zed Heaven
9. Hairy Mother
10. Sascha’s Book Of Frogs
$19.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
The Good FeelingAvailable on Audiophile 180 gram Vinyl for the First Time! 2012 Grammy Winner - Best Large Jazz Ensemble!
The good feeling you are about to feel is the kind that can only be derived by the collective efforts of players at the peak of their powers assembled and led by the one and only Christian McBride! The bassist with the mostest hosts an aggregation of players here including his own bandmate Steve Wilson, multi-reedman Ron Blake, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and his close personal friend, vocalist Melissa Walker. McB arranges and conducts the project, which has been a life-long dream of his. They don't call it brass for nothing! 180 gram double vinyl pressing from Mack Avenue Records.
- Christian McBride (bass, arranger, conductor)
- Steve Wilson (alto sax, flute)
- Todd Bashore (alto sax, flute)
- Ron Blake (tenor, soprano sax, flute)
- Todd Williams (tenor sax, flute)
- Loren Schoenberg (tenor sax)
- Carl Maraghi (baritone sax, bass clarinet)
- Frank Green (trumpet)
- Freddie Hendrix (trumpet)
- Nicholas Payton (trumpet)
- Nabate Isles (trumpet)
- Steve Davis (trombone)
- Michael Dease (trombone)
- James Burton (trombone)
- Douglas Purviance (bass trombone)
- Xavier Davis (piano)
- Ulysses Owens, Jr. (drums)
- Melissa Walker (vocals)LP1
1. Shake 'n Bake
3. Brother Mister
4. When I Fall In Love
5. Science Fiction
1. The Shade of the Cedar Tree
2. The More I See You
3. I Should Care
4. A Taste of Honey
5. Bluesin' In Alphabet City
6. In A Hurry$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Common GroundAvailable on audiophile 180 gram double vinyl for the first time courtesy of Mack Avenue Records.
On Common Ground, Gary Burton's debut release on Mack Avenue Records, the Grammy-winning pioneer of the four-mallet technique of playing the vibes is not only delivering his first studio album since 2005, but is also introducing his latest band. Well-known throughout his five-decade career for his quartets (beginning with his 1967 group featuring Larry Coryell, Roy Haynes and Steve Swallow), Burton is returning to the configuration for the first time since the mid-90s.
He expresses great enthusiasm for the new band's alchemy. "I've always liked the vibraphone-guitar sound," says Burton, whose masterful vibes glisten throughout Common Ground. "It's something that I discovered when Nashville country guitarist Hank Garland invited me in the '60s to record with him. The sound of the two instruments together has an ideal timbre and coolness."
- Gary Burton (vibes)
- Scott Colley (bass)
- Julian Lage (guitar)
- Antonio Sanchez (drums)LP1
1. Late Night Sunrise
2. Never The Same Way
3. Common Ground
4. Was It So Long Ago?
1. Last Snow
2. Did You Get It?
3. My Funny Valentine
5. In Your Quiet Place$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Seeds From The UndergroundOver the course of a stellar career that has spanned more than 30 years, saxophonist Kenny Garrett has become the preeminent alto saxophonist of his generation. From his first gig with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (led by Mercer Ellington) through his time spent with musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis, Garrett has always brought a vigorous yet melodic, and truly distinctive, alto saxophone sound to each musical situation. As a bandleader for the last two decades, he has also continually grown as a composer. With his latest recording (and second for Mack Avenue Records), Seeds From The Underground, Garrett has given notice that these qualities have not only become more impressive, but have provided him with the platform to expand his horizons and communicate his musical vision clearly. Seeds From The Underground is a powerful return to the straight-ahead, acoustic and propulsive quartet format that showcases Garrett’s extraordinary abilities.
For Garrett, Seeds From The Underground is a special recording. It once again consists of all original compositions, and is truly an homage to those who have inspired and influenced him, both personally and musically. “All of these songs are dedicated to someone,” says Garrett. “And the ‘seeds’ have been planted, directly or indirectly, by people who have been instrumental in my development.”
With Seeds From The Underground Garrett has crafted a project that offers his appreciation while always making the listener aware of his band’s skillful approach to melody, harmony and rhythm. From personal nods such as the opening track “Boogety Boogety,” dedicated to his memory of watching western films with his father (the title refers to the sound of a galloping horse); “Wiggins,” which references his high school band director Bill Wiggins; and “Detroit,” an evocative, reflective composition about his hometown, and a celebration of mentor Marcus Belgrave; to his appreciation of some of his musical heroes on “J Mac” (Jackie McLean); “Haynes Here” (Roy Haynes); and “Do Wo Mo” (Duke Ellington, Woody Shaw and Thelonious Monk).
Melody, as a matter of fact, was a key element for the saxophonist when writing for the recording. “I wanted to focus on the melody,” Garrett reflects. “I want people to remember what the melody is before we start improvising…and on some songs I heard voices, the singing of the melody.” This latter point is in evidence on the selections “Haynes Here,” “Detroit” and “Welcome Earth Song.”
Another notable component compositionally for Garrett on Seeds From The Underground is his approach to rhythm and meter. Over the past few years, one of the most popular and acclaimed groups that he has been a part of is the GRAMMY® award winning Five Peace Band, joining guitarist John McLaughlin, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride, and drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Brian Blade. His participation in that band led him to experiment with writing in different meters. “Some of these songs are in odd meters; in my experience with John, we played some songs in odd meters, so I thought, this is a different way of writing songs,” Garrett states. “So there is some of that approach here.”
Garrett’s current working band is very much up to the task on Seeds From The Underground. And like all successful bandleaders, Garrett knows what he wants musically and has formed a band that will best communicate his message (with implicit trust among one another). Bassist Nat Reeves is a rhythmic anchor and a long-standing member of Garrett’s past aggregations. However, for this recording, Garrett thought a lot about the talents of fellow Detroiter, drummer Ronald Bruner, as well as Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez. “When I decided I wanted to do the album, I had Ronald in mind; I thought that he would work well on these songs. And Benito has been in my band for a while, and we talked conceptually about how I hear the piano in the band. McCoy Tyner is my man, so I wanted to have more of that sound, and there aren’t a lot of young guys around who are dealing with that like Benito is.” Percussionist Rudy Bird also provides a driving, rhythmic pulse to the recording.
A very important contributor to Seeds From The Underground is the project’s co-producer: pianist, composer and educator, Donald Brown. His friendship with Garrett goes back to their days with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. He has been an integral part of past Garrett recordings, and has been a musical inspiration for him. “I feel comfortable in the studio with him and I know he’s going to hear what I hear, because we think alike in how we hear music,” states Garrett. “I’ve also always admired his compositions and he was really inspired by these compositions, so he was glad that we were able to hook back up on this project.”
Garrett has always expressed interest in music from other parts of the world. Whether it’s Africa, Greece, Indonesia, China or Guadeloupe, he immerses himself in the culture and gleans from his experience something that becomes a part of his artistic message. On Seeds From The Underground, the African-influenced “Welcome Earth Song” and “Laviso, I Bon?” (the latter was inspired by a musician friend in Guadeloupe) are prime examples.
The album highlights Garrett’s overall approach to music: wide-ranging, receiving ideas from all musical sources and genres. Garrett states, “I love the challenge of trying to stay open…about music and about life. If it’s music, I just try to check it out. Right now I’m listening to some music from Martinique and I’m lovin’ it. If I like it, maybe I can incorporate some of it into what I do.” As for composing: “I don’t try to control what I write,” he says. “Music comes from ‘The Creator.’ It’s a gift that’s coming in, and I receive it. I write in all genres, and I’m writing all the time. It’s never about what it is…I just say thank you.”
Seeds From The Underground is the latest stop on what continues to be a fascinating musical journey for Kenny Garrett and his listeners. It’s a recording that is not only a significant personal statement from the saxophonist, but a musical declaration of his continued growth as a musician, and in particular, as a composer.1. Boogety Boogety
2. J. Mac
4. Haynes Here
6. Seeds from the Underground
8. Welcome Earth Song
9. Ballad Jarrett
10. Laviso, I Bon?
$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Friends (Awaiting Repress)A release that its creator Stanley Jordan cites as his most realized project to date finds him in challenging company: fellow strummers Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli and Mike Stern; saxmen (and label mate) Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws; N’awlins trumpeter Nicholas Payton and the renown violinist Regina Carter. Another label mate, Christian McBride, guests on bass when not handled by Stanley’s long-time trio bassist Charnett Moffett. Kenwood Dennard of his trio holds down the drum chair. Truly, a collection of Friends whose benefits push Stanley into a heightened musical reality.1. Capitol J
2. Walkin' The Dog
3. Lil' Darlin'
4. Giant Steps
5. I Kissed A Girl
6. Samba Delight
7. Seven Come Eleven
8. Bathed In Light
9. Bartok Duet
11. One For Milton
$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedAWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Zen FoodAvailable For The First Time On 180 Gram 2 LP Vinyl.
Originally released on November 22, 2010, Zen Food was Kevin’s first release since he decided to move on from the Music Director position on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Featuring acoustic versions of “Adoration,” “Dirty Monk” and “Spider Monkey Café,” all exclusive to this vinyl release, the two LP set has been mastered at 96/24 bit and comes on 180 gram vinyl.
Zen Food finds Eubanks in the company of his favorite players, most of whom can be found jamming with him at L.A.’s famed Baked Potato (a guitar paradise where Larry Carlton, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Lukather, Lee Ritenour etc. have performed).LP 1
1. The Dancing Sea
2. Spider Monkey Café
3. The Dirty Monk
5. Los Angeles
6. I Remember Loving You
4. Adoration [acoustic]
5. The Dirty Monk [acoustic]
6. Spider Monkey Café [acoustic]
$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
TimelineAvailable For The First Time On 180 Gram 2-Disc Vinyl.
Timeline is the Yellowjackets’ 21st official recording, not including special side projects and guest spots. The band’s background gleams with various honors, including 17 Grammy® nominations and 2 Grammy® awards to show for their efforts—so far.
Nearly two generations of fans have enjoyed the lasting influence and jazz tradition of Yellowjackets — 30 years of continuous service to America’s native art form have made them unique in a business known for faddishness, and important in that ever-changing world of music.
Russell Ferrante – Jimmy Haslip – Will Kennedy – Bob Mintzer. All universally recognized innovators on their own and part of jazz history collectively as Yellowjackets mark this occasion with the appropriately titled Timeline. This is an essential chapter of a story that continues to be written.
Russell Ferrante – piano, keyboards
Jimmy Haslip – bass
Bob Mintzer – tenor, soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
Will Kennedy – drums, keyboardsLP 1
1. Why Is It
6. A Single Step
2. Like Elvin
3. My Soliloquy
5. I Do
$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
WomanchildWhen Cécile McLorin Salvant arrived at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC to compete in the finals of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, she was not only the youngest finalist, but also a mystery woman with the most unusual background of any of the participants. When she walked away with first place in the jazz world’s most prestigious contest, the buzz began almost immediately. If anything, it has intensified in the months leading up to the launch of her Mack Avenue Records debut, WomanChild.
“She has poise, elegance, soul, humor, sensuality, power, virtuosity, range, insight, intelligence, depth and grace,” Wynton Marsalis asserts. “I’ve never heard a singer of her generation who has such a command of styles,” remarks pianist Aaron Diehl. “She radiates authority,” critic Ben Ratliff wrote in The New York Times in response to one of her post-competition performances, and a few weeks later his colleague Stephen Holden announced that “Ms. McLorin Salvant has it all.... If anyone can extend the lineage of the Big Three—Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald—it is this 23-year-old virtuoso.”
Yet at almost every step of the way, McLorin Salvant has followed a different path from her peers. Born in Miami to a French mother and Haitian father, McLorin Salvant’s first language was French. She immersed herself in the classical music tradition, long before she turned to jazz—starting on piano at age five and joining the Miami Choral Society at age eight. When it came time for college, McLorin Salvant bypassed all the US conservatories and jazz schools, heading instead to Aix-en-Provence in France, where she continued to develop as a singer, but with an emphasis on classical and baroque vocal music as well as jazz. There, thousands of miles away from jazz’s land of origin, McLorin Salvant entered into a fruitful partnership with reed player and teacher Jean-François Bonnel, first as a student and soon as a performer. Before returning to the US, she gave concerts in Paris, recorded with Bonnel’s quintet, and immersed herself in the early jazz and blues vocal tradition. By the time she returned to her home country to take the stage in the Monk Competition, she had drawn on this unusual set of formative experiences in shaping a personal style of jazz singing, surprising and dramatic by turns, and very much in contrast to that of the other participants and McLorin Salvant’s contemporaries.
In the aftermath of McLorin Salvant’s triumph at the Monk Competition, the jazz world eagerly awaited the winner’s first US recording. Answering that call with WomanChild, McLorin Salvant draws on songs spanning three centuries of American music. “I like to choose songs that are a little unknown or have been recorded very few times,” McLorin Salvant notes. “While these songs aren’t recognized as standards, many should be because they are so beautifully crafted.”
On the album, her repertoire ranges from the 19th century ballad “John Henry,” refreshed in a spirited up-to- date arrangement, to McLorin Salvant’s own 21st century waltz “Le Front Caché Sur Tes Genoux” which draws on a poem by Haitian writer Ida Salomon Faubert for its lyric. She is joined by a world class band who share her concern for creating jazz of today by drawing on vibrant traditions of the past: pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Rodney Whitaker (both of whom are Mack Avenue label mates), guitarist James Chirillo and master drummer Herlin Riley.
The old and new rub shoulders throughout this album, but this singer’s attitude is neither beholden to the past nor trying to anticipate the trends of the future. Her captivating singing is immersed in the immediacy of the present moment. So much so, that those who have seen McLorin Salvant in concert marvel at how she radiates the confidence and poise of a mature artist even though she is just at the dawn of her own career.
McLorin Salvant may have the deepest roots of any singer of her generation. She knows the sounds and styles of modern jazz but also possesses complete command of the classic blues and early American vocal tradition. She has studied the entire recorded legacy of the great Bessie Smith (1894-1937), often called the Empress of the Blues, and also has deep familiarity with Valaida Snow, Bert Williams and other early masters of American music. For her, these musicians are exponents of living traditions that she has drawn into the orbit of her own work.
However, McLorin Salvant can’t be pinned down as a jazz traditionalist. Alongside fellow Monk Competition winner Jacky Terrasson, she has recorded works by John Lennon/Yoko Ono and Erik Satie, and can sing in French, Spanish or English as the mood and situation warrant. Knowledgeable jazz fans will identify the influence and inspiration from some of the most distinctive modern jazz stylists, such as Betty Carter, Carmen McRae and Abbey Lincoln. She is also currently continuing her studies of the classical and baroque tradition. In short, McLorin Salvant is a seeker and a creative spirit who is determined to push ahead, even while she shows an extraordinary command of the tradition that has preceded her.
In his article in The New York Times, critic Stephen Holden listed some of the virtues of McLorin Salvant’s singing: “perfect pitch and enunciation, a playful sense of humor, a rich and varied tonal palette, a supple sense of swing, exquisite taste in songs and phrasing, and a deep connection to lyrics.” Her musical skills are considerable, but they are matched by an interpretive ability that is almost more akin to an actor’s than a singer’s. She draws out the story hidden inside the song, and can draw on the elements of her own personality and a full gamut of emotional stances—from the darkly troubling to the richly comic—in bringing lyrics to life.
“I want to get as close to the center of the song as I can,” McLorin Salvant explains. “When I find something beautiful and touching I try to get close to it, and share that with the audience.”
On WomanChild, McLorin Salvant gives music lovers the chance to hear why the illustrious judges at the Monk Competition gave her top honors. McLorin Salvant is still a bit of a mystery, but she will hardly be a secret any longer.1. St. Louis Gal
2. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
5. Prelude/There's A Lull In My Life
6. You Bring Out The Savage In Me
7. Baby Have Pity On Me
8. John Henry
9. Jitterbug Waltz
10. What A Little Moonlight Can Do
11. Deep Dark Blue
$35.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
There are few genres of music that can boast the influence that jazz music can, with the genres it has spawned ranging from funk to hip hop to ska.
While the name “jazz” encompasses several different types of music, most people will instantly think of that distinctive upbeat New Orleans sound, with blaring
There are few genres of music that can boast the influence that jazz music can, with the genres it has spawned ranging from funk to hip hop to ska.
While the name “jazz” encompasses several different types of music, most people will instantly think of that distinctive upbeat New Orleans sound, with blaring trumpets and running bass lines that harkens back to the days of big band music.
When it comes to the listening experience, vinyl and jazz are simply made for each other. Few things compare to throwing on a Louis Armstrong vinyl or an Ella Fitzgerald vinyl and letting yourself be transported back to a glorious time in the history of music.