Cassandra Wilson - Thunderbird
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During that time, the Grammy-winning vocalist has picked up enough ‘female singer of the year’ awards and if Dwight Trible rates her, that’s good enough for me.
I can’t say that I’d heard of her before her Courtney Pine ‘period’, especially their version of ‘I’ve Known Rivers’ of the mid-nineties but my favourite is her duet with Dianne Reeves on a version of ‘Come Together’.
The new album out this week finds her in a new production team (T Bone Burnett & Keefus Ciancia) along with a new group including guitarists Keb Mo, Colin Linden & Marc Ribot, Mike Elizondo (bass) and Jim Keltner (drums).
Apart from the star performance of Ms. Wilson, the guitar playing is a highlight throughout like Mississippi Blues duet with Colin Linden on ‘Red River Valley’. I prefer the more ‘original’ blues guitar on cover versions of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s ‘Easy Rider’ and Willie Dixon’s classic, ‘I Want To Be Loved’ (with Keb Mo on guitar).
The album starts with a chirpy ‘Go To Mexico’, which from my limited knowledge of Norah Jones, is very ‘Norah’.
The current stand out is ‘Strike A Match’ a pop-broken 4-Hero track for jazzheads; put it on a single and get the Bugz/Domu’s on the remix; or even just leave it alone, the cello is the business, early The Cure atmospherics?
The originals are the soppy-funk ‘It Would Be So Easy’ and the final track, ‘Tarot’. ‘Torot’ is like ‘Strike A Match’ for soul-nu-jazz lovers with Larry Adler (actually, Gregoire Maret) on harmonica.
Whilst the album crosses the blues, soul, pop and jazz genres to appeal to the widest possible audience, it means at times it kicks like over proof cider on a hot day (‘Strike A Match’) and then, the pay back, a wet Monday locked on Radio 2 (‘Lost’). That said, the Blues tracks are excellent and definitely worth a listen.
Reviewed: Cassandra Wilson - Thunderbird (Blue Note) Cat. No. 7243 8 63398 2 9 Release date: 04 Apr 2006
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