Belly of the Sun

Belly of the Sun

5.0 1
by Cassandra Wilson
     
 

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On Belly of the Sun, vocalist Cassandra Wilson goes for a more organic blues sound. First, she recorded much of the CD in the Clarkesdale, Mississippi train station and a nearby boxcar, and that Delta ambience infuses most of the set. Then she added an occasional musician or two who work in the towns and cities that lie along the Mississippi River. The result

Overview

On Belly of the Sun, vocalist Cassandra Wilson goes for a more organic blues sound. First, she recorded much of the CD in the Clarkesdale, Mississippi train station and a nearby boxcar, and that Delta ambience infuses most of the set. Then she added an occasional musician or two who work in the towns and cities that lie along the Mississippi River. The result for Wilson’s fans is a flashback to her earlier recordings New Moon Daughter and Blue Light Til Dawn, with a touch of Brazil and a lot of the Delta. Her take on Robbie Robertson’s “The Weight” is uptown bluesy, while Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” is sophisticated folk. Marvin Sewell’s acoustic guitar provides the perfect airiness to Wilson’s deep, rich voice, and Cyro Baptista’s percussion connects the American roots music to sounds of Africa and Brazil. Wilson’s cover of “Wichita Lineman” is slow and sultry, with Kevin Breit’s resonator guitar “singing through the wires.” On James Taylor’s “Only a Dream in Rio,” Wilson mixes Mississippi soul, provided by backup singers who work out of Jackson, with exotic instrumentation. The disparate forces converge for something akin to nouveau Brazilian pop. Wilson’s originals are perhaps the most provocative tunes. Her “Justice” brings up the touchy subject of reparations for slavery by putting it in the context of what it would feel like to have “some of that opportunity.” Wilson’s very personal “Just Another Parade,” which features pop sensation India.Arie joining in on vocals, is a lilting song about the courage it takes to face life day after day, while her “Drunk as Cooter Brown” is a romantic encounter that could only happen on a juke-joint Friday night. Among the tunes that feature down-home players is “Show Me a Love,” co-written by Wilson and Jesse Robinson, a guitarist who was an old friend of her father’s. Robinson plays the kind of electric guitar that is popular in African-American clubs in the Deep South today, but with the accompaniment of Sewell, Baptista, and bass and drums, Wilson makes it singularly her own. The piano bar version of “Darkness on the Delta” features only Mississippi pianist Boogaloo Ames accompanying Wilson. Two blues classics -- Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” and Robert Johnson’s “Hot Tamales” -- illustrate Wilson’s breadth of knowledge about and respect for early forms of the music. But just like most anything she does, these tunes take on a completely different hue when colored by Wilson. Her jazz fans may be a touch disappointed that improvisation doesn’t stand out on Belly of the Sun, but there is plenty of risk taking on the set. It’s just that -- as on most of her recordings -- Wilson’s strong and charismatic presence is always the centerpiece.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - David R. Adler
Cassandra Wilson continues to move down a highly eclectic path on Belly of the Sun, the somewhat belated follow-up to Traveling Miles. While displaying a jazz singer's mastery of melodic nuance and improvisatory phrasing, Wilson draws on a variety of non-jazz idioms -- roots music, rock, Delta blues, country, soul -- to create a kind of earthy, intelligent pop with obvious crossover appeal. Her core band includes guitarists Marvin Sewell and Kevin Breit, who blend marvelously, Sewell mostly on mellow acoustic and Breit adding atmospheric touches on electric, 12-string, and slide guitars, as well as mandolin, banjo, and even bouzouki. Bassist Mark Peterson and percussionists Jeffrey Haynes and Cyro Baptista provide a superbly sensitive rhythmic foundation. But because Wilson returned to her home state of Mississippi to record most of this album, she made sure to book some time with local musicians. Thus guitarist Jesse Robinson guests on (and co-writes) the funky "Show Me a Love," and the octogenarian pianist "Boogaloo" Ames plays an unpolished yet utterly heartfelt duet with Wilson on the classic "Darkness on the Delta." Other guests include drummer Xavyon Jamison, trumpeter Olu Dara, pianist and vocalist Rhonda Richmond (who penned the slowly swaying "Road So Clear"), guitarist Richard Johnston, backup vocalists Patrice Monell, Jewell Bass, Henry Rhodes, and Vasti Jackson, and the children of New York's Middle School 44. Wilson delves into vintage blues with Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move" and a brief yet dynamic rendition of Robert Johnson's "Hot Tamales." But the best tracks are the rock/pop covers: the Band's "The Weight," Bob Dylan's "Shelter From the Storm," James Taylor's "Only a Dream in Rio," Jobim's "Waters of March," and Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" (a 1968 hit for Glen Campbell). Wilson and band are in peak interpretive form on these ethereal reinventions. While her own lyrics may not rise to the level of a Robbie Robertson or a Bob Dylan, her versatility and focus come through clearly on the originals "Justice," "Just a Parade" (a collaboration with neo-soul rookie India.Arie), and the Caribbean-tinged "Cooter Brown."

Product Details

Release Date:
03/26/2002
Label:
Blue Note Records
UPC:
0724353507220
catalogNumber:
35072

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Cassandra Wilson   Primary Artist,Guitar
Olu Dara   Trumpet
Cyro Baptista   Percussion,Bass Drums,Vocals
Jewel Bass   Vocals
Jeff Haynes   Percussion,Steel Pan
Vasti Jackson   Vocals
Marvin Sewell   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Kevin Breit   Banjo,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Slide Guitar,Omnichord,E-bow,Bazouki,national steel guitar,Guitar (Resonator)
Henry Rhodes   Vocals
Mark Peterson   Bass,Acoustic Bass
Richard Johnston   Guitar,Vocals
India.Arie   Vocals

Technical Credits

Cassandra Wilson   Composer,Producer
Jimmy Webb   Composer
Danny Kopelson   Engineer
Bruce Lundvall   Executive Producer
Sean Macke   Engineer
Jessie Mae Robinson   Composer
Michael Simanga   Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Jack Spencer   Cover Photo

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Belly of the Sun 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this CD two weeks ago and I haven't stopped listening to it. Her versatility is amazing.