469

Cassandra Wilson: Traveling Miles

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Critic's Note. AAJ 's Jim Santella reviewed Traveling Miles in the April issue of the magazine.

And Miles to Go. Cassandra Wilson has an original vocal and performance style in the same way the late Betty Carter did. They both are aggressively experimental in their phrasing with absolutely no qualms about pushing the envelope to the edge. They are both capable of seemingly approaching a devastating loss of control in their performance that is all of the time held firmly in place by their perfect concept swing. Wilson, indeed, is the most original jazz singer since Betty Carter.

Traveling Miles is ostensibly Wilson's tribute to Miles Davis. Davis' songbook is chock full of songs that a craftsman like Wilson could use to make a perfectly safe and superb tribute disc (much like Shirley Horn's I Remember Miles (Verve 314 557 199-2, 1998), one that takes no risks. But that is not what Wilson does. She takes about every chance she can, from penning her own lyrics to several Davis standards, including her own original material, to covering Miles' cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" in that half-lidded, laconic voice Wilson came into on her last two solo recordings. It is in her willingness to take chances, to push the music as far as it will go, that Cassandra Wilson captures the essence, and thereby honors the memory of Miles Davis.

Through The Looking Glass. A perfect example that demonstrates the depth and breadth of Wilson's talent and vision is the disc's opener and closer, "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" from Bitches Brew. Wilson spins lyrics heavily laced with delta blues myths and motifs and spreads them over the hypnotic anti-blues funk of Davis' early steps into fusion. It is a juxtaposition that is simple in its genius and genre smashing in its intention.

Fruit Salad. The entire disc is built on Wilson's intricate yet durable arrangments and instrument combinations. Like Berlioz in an opium dream, Wilson masterfully brings together the most original instrument combinations. Electric and acoustic guitars and effects are employed in unexpected and surprising ways. Slide guitars provide on one hand a faux amature folk sound (note "Right Here, Right Now") and a psychedelic blues experience on the other ("Resurrection Blues").

Individual contributions often rule. Vincent Henry's harmonica is downright tasty on the Wilson original, "When the Sun goes Down". Vib-meister Stefon Harris provides perfect counterpoint to pianist Eric Lewis, while Regina Carter's violin first flits around and then enters the groove of "Seven Steps to Heaven". Kevin Breit's electric mandolin provides a ticklish texture to "Someday My Prince Will Come".

This turns out to be perhaps the most enjoyable and unique Miles tribute. I can find damn little wrong with it. But a note of warning—I rarely find fault with Miles Davis or Cassandra Wilson.


Track Listing: Run the Voodoo Down, Traveling Miles, right Here, Right Now, time after Time, When the Sun Goes Down, Seven Steps, Someday My Prince Will Come, Never Broken (ESP), Resurrection Blues (Tutu), Piper, VooDoo Reprise.

Personnel: Cassandra Wilson: Vocals and Acoustic Guitar; Dave HollandLonnie Plaxico: Bass, Olu Dara: Cornet; Marvin Sewell, Kevin Briet, Doug Wamble, Pat Metheny: Guitars; Jeff Haynes: Percussion; Eric Lewis: Piano; Marcus Baylor, Percy Wilson: Drums; Vincent Henry: Harmonica; Stefon Harris: Vibraphone; Regina Carter: Violin; Cecilia Smith: Marimba .

Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Oratorios and Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Oratorios and Songs
by John Eyles
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Music Box Music" CD/LP/Track Review Music Box Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "Some Other Time" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "Miles Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Miles Smiles
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 2, 2016
Read "Potsdamer Platz" CD/LP/Track Review Potsdamer Platz
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: February 3, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!