65

Laird Jackson: Touched

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Laird Jackson: Touched So many talented lady jazz singers out there; add Laird Jackson to the list. Though she's not quite new to the scene—her debut CD, " Quiet Flame came out in '94, emphasis on popular standards of the 30's and 40's. She's taken a different tack this time out, on Touched, covering songs by Bill Withers, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, and the almost forgotten Donovan. And she's writing, too; six of the CDs eleven songs are Jackson originals.

Some impressions on Touched : Laird Jackson has some pipes, a beautiful instrument, a rich, burnished contralto, with range. And she can pick a song. Her decision here to stay away from the older standards and cover some unlikely material pays off. Especially on Joni Mitchell's "Tin Angel" (more later). And like Cassandra Wilson, Laird Jackson has the ability to stretch and mold a melody like a lump of clay: Stevie Wonder's "Visons", and especially Donovan's "Catch the Wind". And a gorgeously haunting version of the obscure (but should be a classic, and might be, if this gets enough listeners) "Lonely House", a collaboration between poet Langston Hughs and melodist Kurt Weill, originally recorded by Abby Lincoln.

Another impression: Jackson is a fine songwriter. "Yet Still" is an achingly lovely a cappella prayer. And the sprightly and upbeat "Take a Walk with Me" is a sort of update on the classic "The Sunny Side of the Street"; deceptively sunny, perhaps. The song is actually a beseechment to a friend who was descending into the personal bedevilment of drug abuse.

Now, Joni Mitchell's "Tin Angel": Laird Jackson's delivery is similar to Joni's, but with more depth and richness in the vocals, with an arrangement that is fittingly spare and absolutely exquisite, instruments sneaking in and out of the mix like cats at midnight; with Steve Wilson's soprano sax slipping in with a subtle and very Wayne Shorteresque solo before Laird tells us, ..."I've found someone to love today." A six minute masterpiece, a musical diamond buffed and polished, all facets flashing.

So many talented jazz ladies, but Laird Jackson is right there with the pack, running in front, in fact, deserving of a big label, big money push.

I can't say enough for her decision to cover some newer songs. That's a direction jazz, it seems, needs to take to maintain its vitality. I'd love to hear her do "My Foolish Heart"; but there are so many great newer songs floating around that are crying out for jazz treatments. I'd love to hear her do Donovan's "First There is a Mountain" or (and I'll surely take some flak for this, but it's a compelling melody) Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill".

But Laird Jackson, who has just produced a four and a half star CD with Touched doesn't need my suggestions.

www.jazzbeat.com

Track Listing: Visions, Take a Little Walk, Toward the Sun, I want to Spend the Night, Tin Angel, Consuela Mi, Touched, Lonely House, Yet Still, You Are Near, Catch the Wind

Personnel: Laird Jackson, vocals; Aaron Graves, piano; John Benitez, bass; Damon Duewhite, drums; Marvin Sewell, guitar; Bruce Barth, piano; Nat Reeves, bass; Clarence Penn, drums; Steve Wilson, sax and flute; Scott Wednholt, trumpet; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax; Daniel Moreno, percussio; Brian Carrott, marimba; Jeff Haynes, percussion; Cecil Bridgewater, flugelhorn; Joe Ford, Alto sax

Title: Touched | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: CAP


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Unnatural  Events CD/LP/Track Review Unnatural Events
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by James Nadal
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Clean CD/LP/Track Review Clean
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2017
Read Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations CD/LP/Track Review Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "TriAngular Bent" CD/LP/Track Review TriAngular Bent
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Escape  from The Unhappy Society" CD/LP/Track Review Escape from The Unhappy Society
by Anthony Shaw
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Trickster" CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Steeped" CD/LP/Track Review Steeped
by John Eyles
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Double Septet" CD/LP/Track Review Double Septet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "The Day After" CD/LP/Track Review The Day After
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 14, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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