537

Cassandra Wilson: Thunderbird

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Cassandra Wilson: Thunderbird Jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson reached the fulcrum of her career with the refreshingly organic Blue Light 'Til Dawn. Her releases before this 1993 Blue Note debut, including M-Base Collective collaborations in the 1980s, were warmly received if not completely inspired. With Blue Light, Wilson changed her creative paradigm, performing older and more eclectic music in a ferociously rustic and transmogrified manner. This spirit infused Wilson's next four Blue Note recordings, highlighting her expansive vocal palette. With the release of her sixth Blue Note recording, Glamoured, ten years later, the singer recalibrated her creative paradigm by composing a greater share of the songs and bringing more electricity into the picture.

On Thunderbird Wilson continues both trends, adding greater hip-hop and pop components to the mix. Wilson has also begun to close the wide sonic spaces that were typical of her earlier material by allowing more aggressive instrumental layering. All of this is done with mixed effect. The opening "Go to Mexico is perhaps the most solid example of Wilson's experimentation with sampling and loops. The piece has a much greater synthetic sound than her previous work. Wisely, the song is engineered (via producer T-Bone Burnett) with Wilson's greatest asset, her voice, out front. The Wallflower's "Closer to You is closer to her earlier efforts, but still bears a highly layered sound not heard on her earlier work.

Where Wilson remains without peer is on her interpretation of blues and country music. The stunning centerpieces to this recording are Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Easy Rider, the old country saw "Red River Valley, and Willie Dixon's "I Want to Be Loved. All three songs feature the buzz-saw razor of Colin Linden's electric slide guitar. "Easy Rider begins plaintively with Wilson and Linden sparring before it erupts into a seething blues lava flow, propelled by Linden and Keith Ciancia's keyboards. In contrast, "Red River Valley finds Wilson and Linden alone, transforming western country into country slide guitar blues a la Ry Cooder. Combining both approaches results in "I Want to be Loved, Wilson's greatest realization as a blues singer.

Wilson fully succeeds in her digital-electric experiment with the originals "It Would Be So Easy and "Poet, pop songs better than the majority heard on programmed radio. It is a provocative look at Wilson's expanding talent. However, this electric turn is not Wilson's best work... as are "Easy Rider, "Red River Valley and "I Want to Be Loved.


Track Listing: Go to Mexico; Closer to You; Easy Rider; It Would Be So Easy; Red River Valley; Poet; I Want to be Loved; Lost; Strike a Match; Tarot.

Personnel: Cassandra Wilson: vocals, guitar; T-Bone Burnett, Keb Mo: guitar, vocals; Colin Linden: guitar, mandolin; Marc Ribot: guitar; Keith Ciancia: piano, keyboards; Miguel Elizondo: bass, guitar, keyboards; Reginald Veal: bass; William Maxwell: electric bass; Carla Azar, Jim Keltner: drums; Jay A. Bellerose: drums, percussion; Gregoire Maret: harmonica.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Fly South" CD/LP/Track Review Fly South
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 10, 2016
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Verde" CD/LP/Track Review Verde
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "An Untroublesome Defencelessness" CD/LP/Track Review An Untroublesome Defencelessness
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake" CD/LP/Track Review Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Dyad Plays Jazz Arias" CD/LP/Track Review Dyad Plays Jazz Arias
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!