"I kind of think of everything I've heard since I was five years old," she says about devising music. "I've been making up songs since I was a little girl."
Now, as she "makes them up," she says a harmony or melody she may hear in her head, or a lyric idea that might come to mind, can all lead to a new composition. But bass lines are always prominent in the process. "I like to feel things from the bass line, from the bottom."
It's common to find non-jazz selections among Wilson's body of work. She doesn't pay much attention to such labels, but notes and admits that close association with jazz that is always with her. Her musical influences are wide-raging, but, she notes that outside of the singers she has been touched by, "I love Miles Davis, mostly."
"Jazz is a culture," she says. "Though it wasn't common when I was coming of age, it was still very much a part of the fabric of what I listened to. I say that I'm a musician, and jazz is my discipline. You have to be connected to the community in order to have the discipline. It requires a certain amount of discipline."
As for jazz in general, and the state of the music business, Wilson is aware of changes and controversies, but remains calm. "I know that jazz always goes through phases," she says. But she's confident in the future. "There was a Miles Davis, then a Wynton Marsalis. There are people out there and things that have happened in each decade."
She says her touring will include songs from Loverly, but also samples of her other work.
"You always have to keep some of the chestnuts," she says of her repertoire with a wry laugh, "if I can call them that. I don't know if they're old enough to be called chestnuts. I try to keep some of the old repertoire together. It's difficult when you get a new band and you start dealing with a new sound, it's hard to go back and repeat certain aspects of, like, the double guitar thing [on some of her recordings where two guitars were used]."
l:r: Reginald Veal, Marvin Sewell, E.J. Strickland, Cassandra Wilson, Lekan Babalola
So, Wilson is comfortable with her place at the moment and happy to be going out with her musicians.
"I am very happy. I'm very content. I like it that I'm going on the road," she says. "I enjoy traveling and performing. I think as I get older, I enjoy that more."
Cassandra Wilson, Loverly (Blue Note, 2008)
Cassandra Wilson, Thunderbird (Blue Note, 2006)
Cassandra Wilson, Glamoured (Blue Note , 2004)
Cassandra Wilson, Belly of the Sun (Blue Note , 2002)
Cassandra Wilson, Traveling Miles (Blue Note , 2000)
Cassandra Wilson with Jacky Terrasson, Rendezvous, (Blue Note, 1997)
Cassandra Wilson, Songbook (Universal, 1996)
Cassandra Wilson, New Moon Daughter, (Blue Note, 1995)
Cassandra Wilson, Blue Light 'Til Dawn , (Blue Note, 1993)
Cassandra Wilson, Dance to the Drums Again, (Sony, 1992)
Cassandra Wilson, After the Beginning Again, (Polygram, 1991)
M-Base Collective, Anatomy of a Groove, (DIW Records, 1991)
Cassandra Wilson, She Who Weeps (Polygram, 1990)
Cassandra Wilson, Jumpworld, (Polygram, 1989)
Cassandra Wilson, Blue Skies, (Polydor, 1988)
Steve Coleman & Five Elements, World Expansion, (Winter and Winter, 1986)
Steve Coleman & Five Elements, On the Edge of Tomorrow, (Winter and Winter, 1985)
Steve Coleman, Motherland Pulse, (Polydor, 1985)
John Kelman (collective shot)