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Cécile McLorin Salvant

woman

Woman Child

Mack Avenue Records 

Upon winning the Theolonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2010; Cécile McLorin Salvant became the hottest jazz/blues vocalist around.

Woman Child mainly focusses on early New Orleans blues, a couple of her own compositions along with a couple of standard tunes (I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, What A Little Moonlight Will Do).  Opening track, St. Louis Gal (first recorded by Bessie Smith over 90 years ago) is all authentic and uncluttered, featuring only acoustic guitar and vocal.  You Bring Out The Savage In Me, by Sam Coslow, is a surprising delight with only vocal, piano, snare drum and high hat. Salvant doesn’t have a straight through vocal range, which enhances her authentic interpretation while staying in the musical genre.

Have Pity On Me by Clarence William is also sparse, using acoustic guitar, vocal and drum, no clichés and not overly emotive – just raw and real.  This is followed by, Rodgers & Hart’s standard, I Didn’t Know What Day It Was, a minimal interpretation which expands as the pianist takes it to another place along with a tasteful bass solo and brushes on the drums.

Nobody, written in 1906 by Bert William, is a medium ragtime style followed by Fats Waller’s Jitterbug Waltz; Salvant not only sings this one but also plays piano as if she was sitting in a bar in the ‘20s.  However, to these ears the outstanding track is Salvant’s own composition, Woman Child.

In an era where uniqueness is hard to find, Cécile McLorin Salvant is a diamond at the coalface.

HELEN MATTHEWS

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