Sings Standards

COMPOSERS: Cassandra Wilson
LABELS: Verve
PERFORMER: CASSANDRA WILSON
CATALOGUE NO: 589 837-2

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Both her detractors and her supporters will claim that Grammy-winning vocalist/pianist Diana Krall has reopened quite a few doors for jazz singers. It may or may not be a coincidence that there has been a spate of jazz-imbued vocal albums of late, but itcertainly a good time to be exploring vocal jazz, particularly if you share the scene’s rediscovered passion for standards.

Standards are, of course, what you make of them, a philosophy which CASSANDRA WILSON has taken to extremes on her new album. Wilson is a significant figure in the extension of the jazz singer’s craft, with a background in Steve Coleman’s cutting-edge M-Base collective, but it’s as if the process of becoming the artist she is today really obliges her to leave behind the kind of material – ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’, ‘Baubles, Bangles and Beads’ – featured here.

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Her debt to Betty Carter has never been more apparent, which is fine, but, as was the case with Cleo Laine during her doodly phase, the mangled wreckage she leaves in her wake when passing through the Great American Songbook is rather disheartening.