All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

240

Cassandra Wilson: Silver Pony

Lewis J Whittington By

Sign in to view read count
Vocalist Cassandra Wilson is known for her genre bending interpretations of jazz and pop standards, though Silver Pony represents a bit of a departure. The liner notes explain that she worked on it during a personal crisis and also was returning to her musical roots. There are studio tracks recorded in New Orleans, mixed with live tracks from Spain, with many of the same musicians.

Silver Pony starts with a staccato, pulsing arrangement of "Lover Come Back to Me," recorded at a concert in Granada, with a less arch, earthier approach, that continues throughout the disc. No one but Wilson could give a completely revamped drama to a warhorse like "Went Down to St. James Infirmary," a track hooked on guitarist Marvin Sewell's wicked shots, behind a vocal delivery from Wilson that swirls, whispers, purrs and draws blood out of a corpse.

"A Night in Seville" is Wilson's simmering electronica jam, her arrangement alluding to Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia," but melting into "Beneath the Silver Moon," co-written with her band members; conjuring up a sultry, dreamy scene with her lilting contralto completely interlocked with Ravi Coltrane's blue-fire sax line, this is vintage Wilson.

Sewell's opening on Charlie Patton's "Saddle Up My Pony" brings a rowdy and heartfelt vocal, with everyone telling a great musical story. On Bernard Roth's blues classic, "Forty Days and Forty Nights"—originally made famous by Muddy Waters—Sewell, bassist Reginald Veal and pianist Jon Batiste distil down off Wilson's torchy vocal. In contrast, Wilson gives Stevie Wonders ballad, "If it's Magic," a straightforward reading, decorating it quietly with flamenco guitar. Later, the quiet storm ambience continues with The Beatles' lullaby, "Blackbird," while Wilson and John Legend demonstrate terrific chemistry on "Watch the Sunrise."

Wilson is also stellar on a live cut of of Bonfá and Sigman's pivotal basso nova classic, "A Day in the Life of a Fool." Sewell's trippy steel guitar and percussionist Lekan Babalola's bongo cool frames Wilson's intimate, haunted vocal.

Silver Pony's very tight, mixed program finds jazz-blues chanteuse Cassandra Wilson in top form.

Track Listing: Lover Come Back To Me; Went Down to St. James Infirmary; A Night in Seville; Beneath A Silver Moon; Saddle Up My Pony; If It's Magic; Forty Days and Forty Nights; Silver Moon; A Day in the Life of a Fool; Blackbird; Watch the Sunrise.

Personnel: Marvin Sewell: guitars; Reginald Veal: bass; Herlin Riley: drums; Jonathan Batiste: keyboards; Lekan Babalola: percussion; Ravi Coltrane: tenor sax; Helen Gillet: cello; Luke Laird: acoustic guitar; Brandon Ross: acoustic guitar.

Title: Silver Pony | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read A New Beginning CD/LP/Track Review
A New Beginning
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet CD/LP/Track Review
Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet
by Gareth Thompson
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Triad CD/LP/Track Review
Triad
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Sketches of American Music CD/LP/Track Review
Sketches of American Music
by Doug Collette
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Three Pictures CD/LP/Track Review
Three Pictures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Alive In The East? CD/LP/Track Review
Alive In The East?
by Chris May
Published: June 22, 2018
Read "Aspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Aspiration
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Use Your Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Use Your Imagination
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 21, 2017
Read "Without A Trace" CD/LP/Track Review Without A Trace
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 4, 2018
Read "Live At The Cota Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Cota Jazz Festival
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Open Book" CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017