375

Cassandra Wilson: Closer To You: The Pop Side

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
One of the eminent jazz singers of this time, Cassandra Wilson's deep timbre is as unmistakable as it is alluring. Her acumen as a musician, her voice an exquisite instrument and the way she interprets and arranges songs—uniquely filled with soul and emotion—would set her in the upper echelon of singers regardless of genre. From roots in Mississippi, where she began playing music at the age of five to her involvement in the advanced music theories of M-Base with saxophonist Steve Coleman and a growing body of diverse work, she continues to press onward.

Following her second Grammy-winning release, Loverly (Blue Note, 2008), a celebrated program of jazz standards, Wilson presents Closer To You: The Pop Side, a compilation of pop songs culled from previous Blue Note recordings. She makes the trans-American Songbook shine even brighter with contemporary favorites that include works from U2, Sting, Cyndi Lauper, Van Morrison, Glenn Campell, and even The Monkees.

The collection epitomizes Wilson's idiosyncratic style: elegant, sexy, mysterious, and well-informed of the intricacies of music, song, and lyrics. Her imprint is heard on a western scatting version of the Monkee's "Last Train to Clarksville," and some delta blues on "The Weight"—that ever rocking 1968 hit by The Band.

Once called the "reluctant diva," this set shows Wilson's altruistic nature, which has placed her among superb artists, such as Terri Lyne Carrington, Marvin Sewell, Cyro Baptista, and producer T-Bone Burnett, who are integral collaborators and not just background fillers for the vocalist. Together they take these popular songs into unusual locations that are earthy, visceral and filled with artistic liberties.

Highlights abound. A lovely version of Cyndi Lauper's 1980's smash "Time After Time," some Brazilian flair on Sting's ever thoughtful "Fragile" and a gorgeous redo of Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey," where Wilson's soulful intonations are sublime. Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" is mesmeric with its canopy of acoustic guitar and the sounds of birds/insects likened to a warm summer's night, as the vocalist soothingly croons. The set closes with Glenn Campbell's popular "Wichita Lineman," proving that whether the song is jazz, rock, or country, no one can deliver it quite like Cassandra Wilson.

Track Listing: Love Is Blindness; Time After Time; Fragile; Closer to You; Last Train to Clarksville; The Weight; Tupelo Honey; Harvest Moon; I Can't Stand the Rain; Lay Lady Lay; Wichita Lineman.

Personnel: Cassandra Wilson: guitar, vocals; Chris Whitley: guitar; Lonnie Plaxico: bass, acoustic bass; Jim Keltner: drums; Reginald Veal: upright bass; Calvin "Fuzz" Jones: upright bass; Cyro Baptista: percussion; T Bone Burnett: guitar, vocals; Charles Burnham: violin; Lance Carter: drums; Keith Ciancia: piano, keyboards; Jeff Haynes: percussion; Brandon Ross: acoustic guitar, guitar, steel guitar; Marvin Sewell: acoustic guitar; Kevin Breit: banjo, bouzouki, guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, guitar (resonator); Cecilia Smith: marimbas; Perry Wilson: drums; Mark Peterson: bass, acoustic bass; Doug Wamble: acoustic guitar; Fabrizio Sotti: guitar; Xavyon Jamison:drums; Kevin Johnson: percussion.

Title: Closer To You: The Pop Side | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Harmony of Difference" CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "The Danish Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Danish Sessions
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)" CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Blue Canvas" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Canvas
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Oaktree" CD/LP/Track Review Oaktree
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "I Know Who I Am" CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.