Yeah, Cassandra Wilson is a jazz singer, but she’s a 21st century jazz singer, mixing elements of jazz, pop, rock, Delta blues, and light funk into her performances, expanding what a jazz vocalist can be in a contemporary world with her horn player phrasing, smoky texture, and a voice that has matured into a haunting, sensual alto. She tackles some jazz standards, but she’s also adept at taking modern rock and old country-blues songs and finding a way to make them into new jazz standards, fully aware that she’s pushing boundaries in a genre that all too often plays it safe these days.
The last years of pianist Teddy Wilson's career were productive, fruitful, energetic, and active ones. This 14-track 1980 live concert setting showcases Wilson playing standards written by Duke Ellington and the brothers Gershwin, and they give the pianist excellent vehicles to strut his stuff. While in a trio setting with the relatively obscure bassist Layman Jackson and drummer Billy Daniels, Wilson is the centerpiece, playing solo for long stretches before his rhythm mates chime in. Many of the Gershwin features are extended medleys with multiple tunes strung together, Wilson playing fast and strong or delicate and light at the snap of two fingers. The Ellington material is closer to Wilson's true heart and all of it is rendered beautifully. As was his style, you hear quite a few stride inflections, blues, ballads, and some fleet boppish lines. Teddy Wilson was precious, and this recording - one of the best in the Jazz Hour series - shows why.
The combination of Damian Wilson and Adam Wakeman has never disappointed and this eloquent album continues that trend. Key to their artistic success is an understanding of songwriting and a defiant resistance against overplaying…
The combination of Damian Wilson and Adam Wakeman has never disappointed and this eloquent album continues that trend. Key to their artistic success is an understanding of songwriting and a defiant resistance against overplaying. Instead, the songs collected here are raw and direct, with the arrangements deliberately restrained and infused with a simple beauty. Laugh In Time is a seductive ballad that’s reminiscent of Cat Stevens at his finest, and the darkly amusing Blackpool Clip Joint Racket possesses the grandeur of early Billy Joel. Indeed, throughout The Sun Will Dance In Its Twilight Hour, there’s a rare consistency to the music, which mixes a contemporary approach with early-70s concise inspiration. Opener The Last American Hero, with an impossibly catchy chorus, is an upbeat tale of an airman and astronaut, and On This Battlefield is similarly direct. The inclusion of Travis guitarist Andy Dunlop alongside seductive strings only enhances the appeal. Impeccably pitched and performed, it’s an album with the potential – given the right exposure – to cross over to mass public appeal.
These recordings for Verve records were made in 1956. Besides Teddy on piano, we hear the solid bass of Gene Ramey and the ever swinging drums of 'papa' Jo Jones. The interplay between these musicians is of a very high level, despite the fact that most selections on this cd are restricted to three or four minutes. Teddy plays with all the qualities as he did in the late thirties and early forties, but the rough edges are gone now. Highlights on the CD are: I Got Rhythm, Limehouse Blues and Blues For Daryl, which reminds us of the Just A Mood-session of the late thirties with Red Norvo and Harry James.