COMPOSERS: Cassandra Wilson
LABELS: Diw Records
WORKS: Melanin Song, Don’t Look Back, Rhythm on My Mind, Wonders of Your Love – Jean-Paul Bourelly, Cassandra Wilson, Nothin’ But a Thang, I Will Be There, Just Keep Thinking of Eubay, Another Rainy Day, Amazing Grace, Dance to the Drummer Again
PERFORMER: Cassandra Wilson
CATALOGUE NO: DIW-863
When Cassandra Wilson released Blue Skies in 1988, an album of standards sung ‘in the tradition’, the jazz world fell sobbing with relief at her feet.
Here, pronounced the critics, is a singer capable of filling the void left by Billie, Ella and Sarah. Wilson, however, said: ‘The whole point of jazz is to establish some kind of identity and propel the music forward.’
Her next album incorporated elements of hip-hop. Indeed much of her work is strongly influenced by saxophonist Steve Coleman, whose work labours to incorporate polyrhythms and funk into a sometimes indigestible package dubbed M-Base.
Wilson’s work often alternates between so-so M-Base-influenced originals and eloquent standards. Yet Dance To The Drums Again, an album of originals, is the most successful balance between art and artist to date. Its more refined, controlled approach suits the grain of her voice: perhaps the most memorable in contemporary jazz. Stuart Nicholson