COMPOSERS: Cassandra Wilson
LABELS: Sony Legacy
ALBUM TITLE: Coming Forth by Day
PERFORMER: Cassandra Wilson (vocals), Jon Cowherd, T Bone Burnett, Nick Zinner (guitar), Kevin Breit (piano), Thomas Wydler (drums), Robby Marshall (clarinet) etc
CATALOGUE NO: 88875063622
Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson engaged producer Nick Launay, best-known for his studio work with ‘gloom rocker’ Nick Cave, for her homage to Billie Holiday, timed to coincide with Lady Day’s centenary (5 April 2015). She’s also brought in a clutch of rock musicians to augment long-time collaborators Jon Cowherd and Kevin Breit, including guitarist T Bone Burnett. Together they run down a programme of 11 Tin Pan Alley tunes associated with Holiday, plus Wilson’s own elegiac ‘Last Song (For Lester)’.
Actually, the players don’t so much run down as creep around the arrangements, relentlessly andante, and casting a somewhat sinister light around the singer’s deep blue contralto voice. It does seem a pity that Launay didn’t choose to vary the emotional moods as the singer’s muse might have done. But fans of Wilson’s dusky timbre won’t be disappointed.