Loverly

Loverly

3.5 4
by Cassandra Wilson
     
 

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For Thunderbird, her 2006 Blue Note recording, vocalist Cassandra Wilson explored the outer reaches of jazz with a multilayered sonic approach piloted by pop producer, T-Bone Burnett. This time, Wilson ventures into another fascinating direction with Loverly, a tantalizing, rhythmically driven collection of jazz standards

Overview

For Thunderbird, her 2006 Blue Note recording, vocalist Cassandra Wilson explored the outer reaches of jazz with a multilayered sonic approach piloted by pop producer, T-Bone Burnett. This time, Wilson ventures into another fascinating direction with Loverly, a tantalizing, rhythmically driven collection of jazz standards given new luster with a top-drawer band of friends that includes Marvin Sewell on guitar, Jason Moran on piano, Herlin Riley on drums, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, and Lekan Babalola on percussion, with special guest appearances by bassist Reginald Veal and trumpeter Nicholas Payton.

"I wanted to work with spare arrangements this time," says Wilson of Loverly, her first full album of standards since her 1988 JMT album Blue Skies. "I decided to dig back into standards with a small, compact group of musicians. I don't record the typical jazz standards a lot, but I love them and that's how I honed my craft. I studied the standards, listening to how other singers put their swing into them. But it's hard to do standards. You can't really sing them until you understand them." From the Label

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Vocalist Cassandra Wilson has used her 15 years at Blue Note to explore the interpretive range of her voice, whether singing tunes by Van Morrison, Robert Johnson, Lewis Allan, Miles Davis, or Hoagy Carmichael. In many ways, Wilson has offered a new view of the standard by using classic rock and Delta blues tunes in her live and recorded repertoires. That said, Loverly is her first offering comprised almost completely of American songbook standards since Blue Skies 20 years ago. Wilson produced the recording in Jackson, MS, and surrounded herself with old friends: guitarist Marvin Sewell, bassists Reggie Veal and Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Herlin Riley, and labelmate and pianist Jason Moran. The material is beautifully chosen; it ranges from Oscar Hammerstein's "Lover Come Back to Me" and Luiz Bonfá's "A Day In The Life Of A Fool" (the English version of "Black Orpheus") to Juan Tizol's "Caravan," Irving Mills' "St. James Infirmary," and Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You." Given Wilson's working methods, these standards are performed in iconic ways -- without losing the central integrity of their sources. A prime example would be "Caravan," where the basic rhythmic pulse has been doubled with a snare, hi-hat, and taut, edgy piano. Wilson offers the melody as written, but with her own stretched-line phrasing applied to the lyric. "Lover Come Back to Me" carries within it the gentle bounce of the original, and Wilson evokes both Nina Simone and Betty Carter in her rhythmic approach to the lyric and melody. The warm double-time guitar strut of Sewell paces the track; Moran's solo walks a line between show tune formalism and vanguard improv that is fresh and exciting. The reading of "Black Orpheus" here is unusual: Wilson is very conservative in her approach to the melody, so much so that the beautiful Portuguese "saudade" element is texturally amplified and bossa is stretched to the breaking point. The band's meld of subtle Afro-Latin rhythms evokes Cuban son, and conserves the root elements in the original. The duet between Sewell's truly unique acoustic guitar style and Wilson's vocal on "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" is utterly tender. A pair of left-field cuts are here as well. First is a group improvisation called "Arere." Propelled by a hypnotic, nearly funky upright bassline, Sewell plays short choppy chords with Afro-Cuban percussion in the backdrop; Moran plays around and through the polyrhythms as Wilson sings and speaks -- she improvises with the band in a number of different languages. Strangely, it doesn't feel out of place here. The other ringer is a read on Elmore James' trademark blues "Dust My Broom." It is not offered as the raucous barroom wailer it classically is. Instead, it's snaky, sultry, and steamy. Sewell's edgy, razored slide guitar, hand percussion, and Wilson's finger snaps accompany her voice on the first verses, establishing a groove before the rest of the band enters. Her phrasing is pure sassy soul that gradually takes this blues firmly into the jazz camp. Wilson has done what many other singers -- many of them on Blue Note -- couldn't even envision: she has taken a substantial part of the American songbook, employed a crack, risk-taking jazz group, and added new depth, texture, and meaning to these songs, without sacrificing their elegance or appeal. Loverly is the only reason to avoid imposing a moratorium on the very tired standards genre that has become the bane of jazz in recent years. It cannot be recommended highly enough.
New York Times - Ben Ratliff
Her best work in a long time.... Ms. Wilson and her band...figure out their rhythmic strategies up front, in a soup of barrelhouse piano, postmodernism, Cuban and African influences, folk and funk. It’s slow, chic and often extremely good.... A beautifully constructed record, from Mr. Moran’s blenderized, genre-defying piano solos to Ms. Wilson’s judicious phrasing, using the full range of her double-smoked voice.
Vibe - Jamie Katz
Cassandra Wilson is a goddess. Her blue-smoked contralto is one of the most distinctive voices of her generation, and her latest album, Loverly, proves once again that she needs no artifice to soar musically.... Wilson is beyond good. She's heavenly.
The New Yorker - Gary Giddins
An unalloyed triumph.... The band is superb throughout.... If making records were as effortless as "Loverly" sounds, there would be a lot more of them.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2008
Label:
Blue Note Records
UPC:
5099950769926
catalogNumber:
07699
Rank:
123573

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Cassandra Wilson   Primary Artist,Vocals
Lonnie Plaxico   Upright Bass
Herlin Riley   Drums
Reginald Veal   Upright Bass
Jason Moran   Piano
Rhonda Richmond   Background Vocals
Lekan Babalola   Percussion

Technical Credits

Sigmund Romberg   Composer
Luiz Bonfá   Composer
Cassandra Wilson   Producer
Irving Mills   Composer
Ray Noble   Composer
Harold Arlen   Composer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Elmore James   Composer
Robert Johnson   Composer
Alan Jay Lerner   Composer
Herbert Magidson   Composer
Carl Sigman   Composer
Juan Tizol   Composer
Meredith Willson   Composer
Allie Wrubel   Composer
Frederick Loewe   Composer
Truman Capote   Composer
Bruce Lundvall   Executive Producer
Kent Bruce   Engineer
Steven Bensusan   Management
Jason Wormer   Engineer
Adam Hertz   Management

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