Yes, Cecile McLorin Salvant could well be the leading Jazz singer of the 21st century: A Review of Dreams and Daggers

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I’ve written several times about Cecile McLorin Salvant already, about her amazing album For The One To Love, which also featured in my Top 5 Vocal Jazz albums for 2015. I also already had the pleasure of hearing her live, an outstanding experience.

This young singer has already received so much praise, including a Grammy and a DownBeats critics poll, that I’m hardly presenting you a scoop here, but a new album by such a great artist really needs a blog post!

Dreams and Daggers (MackAvenue 2017)

Cecile McLorin Salvant Dreams and Daggers 24 96 MackAvenue 2017

A couple of initial comments: this is a live album, recorded in 2016 at the legendary Village Vanguard in New York that has given us outstanding live albums already back in the days of Bill Evans. And the recording quality is excellent, you really only notice the live character of this album from the audience´s enthusiastic clapping and her occasional comments to the public.

Second comment: you get a double album here. Some could argue, is this a bit long? Actually not at all, you actually really don’t want this album to end.

Third comment: this album is formally slightly less innovative than the first two ones, you get more Irving and Gershwin standards, and the playing by Aaron Diehl and his great musicians is relatively mainstream. Some of you will take that as a criticism. Actually, not at all!

Because McLorin Salvant manages to put her very personal spin on even old try familiar standards like Devil May Care or You’re My Thrill.

My favorite track is Somehow I never could believe, which starts out as a sensitive ballad where Aaron Diehl already gets to shine in the long intro, but the real hero is Paul Sikivie on bass. And then you get Cecile´s voice, which on this track sometimes is even close to whispering. Amazingly intense.

A note on the title: You have Dreams, representing pretty much what you’d think it means. But what about the Daggers? Well, according to McLorin Salvant, this is about the songs about more complex topics, like feminism, racial identity, self-doubt, that really force you to listen to the lyrics.

This album is a must have for any jazz lover. The year is not yet over, but I´d be surprised if this album doesn’t end up in my personal top Jazz albums for 2017.

In my very first post about her I asked the question in the title Will Cécile McLorin Salvant Become The Most Important Jazz Singer of Our Century?.

Well we obviously still have 83 years to go in this decade, but she’s clearly up to a very good start here.

My rating: 5 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Prostudiomasters)

A Lot Of Fun At The Vanguard – Christian McBride’s New Live Album

3 Kinds of Piano Trios

I’ve written about a lot of piano trio album already, as this is one of my favorite genres, from Shai Maestro, to Helge Lien, to the obvious Keith Jarrett (here and here). By the way, if you’re interested in reading all my posts about a particular genre like the piano trio, just click on the category link in the  sidebar (or here). I spent a lot of effort categorizing and tagging my posts as I want you to be able to find stuff easily. Otherwise there is always the free text search.

I personally mentally categorize the Jazz piano trio into three classes:

  1. Focusing on the melody

These move a bit away from the traditional Jazz, and have a strong focus on the melody and harmonic development. Typical examples for me are Triosence, Edgar Knecht, or the Tingvall trio. As you can see from my previous reviews, I really like this category, as I am a sucker for melodies.

2. Avantgarde

Going beyond traditional harmonies and rhythmic structures, these groups tend to be more exploratory, recent examples include Vijay Iyer or Giovanni Guidi. Often, these aren’t really my cup of tea. That’s why you won’t be reading a lot about them here, in spite of the fact that I admire their artistic creativity.

3. It Don’t Mean A Thing if It AInt’ Got that Swing

Typical examples are Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown, where a certain Swing is always present.

I very much like this form of piano Jazz, nothing better to cheer you up if you are in a bad mood.

Obviously, these classifications are never clear-cut, but they help me mentally organize my music collection.

Christian McBride Live At The Village Vanguard

i was pointed to this album by forum contributor JoeWhip (see here).

For whatever reason McBride, a bassist close to the great Ray Brown, kind of flew under the radar for me, probably he was more active as a sideman than a leader, what a miss!

I’m glad I finally rediscovered him. He plays here with Ulysses Owens Jr on drums and Christian Sands on piano.

The Christian McBride Trio Live At The Village Vanguard 2015 MackAvenue

This album is a typical example where I just can’t sit still. Whenever I’m in a Jazz concert I’m always surprised that there are so many people in the audience that sit completely still. That’s ok for me maybe during a ballad.

But on any uptempo song I just need to somehow move with the music, whether it is my foot, hand, or whatever. I may look a bit silly, but it is completely impossible for me not to go with the music. And this is how the third category of trio jazz I mentioned above should be!

This is excellent live Jazz, nothing else but pure enjoyment. And the extra energy of the mythical Vanguard that I always visit when my travels get me to NYC probably helps.

After Aaron Diehl and Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mack Avenue has another winner here!

My rating: 4 stars

You can download it here (Qobuz) or here (HDTracks)