LIVE: Harriet Tubman & Cassandra Wilson Present Black Sun @ The Egg, 3/15/14

March 21st, 2014, 12:00 pm by Greg
Cassandra Wilson and JT Lewis

Cassandra Wilson and JT Lewis

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu and Andrzej Pilarczyk

I think Cassandra Wilson may be about to record her first punk album.

Let me explain: While Wilson may be known as a jazz vocalist, the esteemed vocalist has never been one of those booming, big-band-backed standard shouters; more often than not, she goes the other way, preferring subtlety in both her vocals and in her background instrumentation. Even on past excursions into the blues of her native Mississippi, acoustic guitar was just as prevalent as electric.

But on Wilson’s latest visit to the Egg’s Swyer Theatre, the core members of a group called Harriet Tubman accompanied her. Check this band’s videos out on YouTube if you want a hair-raising experience – one completely in line with players whose resumes include out-there artists like Henry Threadgill, D.J. Logic, Living Colour and the Rollins Band. Tubman’s semi-free-form fusion is about as far from Wilson’s primary work product as Albany is from Alpha Centauri. But as bassist Melvin Gibbs told us in his introductory remarks, the “different kind of energy” Wilson & Tubman create together as Black Sun is what Wilson wanted when this partnership was formed.

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This Week’s Hit Parade

December 10th, 2010, 12:00 pm by Greg

Cassandra Wilson: Silver PonyPICK OF THE WEEK

Cassandra Wilson. “Silver Pony” (EMI, 2010): OK, at this point in my life, it has dwindled down to a very precious few handful of artists whose albums I will go out and buy on blind faith. Ms. Wilson is one of them of them. And once again, she hasn’t let me down. In fact, this might well be one of her best – a strange amalgam of live, live-augmented in the studio and more. Blues, jazz, pop, funk – you know the unpredictability of her repertoire. Her interpretation of blues legend Charlie Patton’s “Saddle Up My Pony,” might be one of the most quintessential tracks that she’s ever recorded. She also delves into Paul McCartney (“Blackbird”), Stevie Wonder (“If It’s Magic”) and even Big Star (a de-lish duet with John Legend on “Watch the Sunrise”). And, yes, she manages to re-invent standards, whether it’s the opening volley of Oscar Hammerstein’s “Lover Come Back to Me” or the percolating funeral blues of “St. James Infirmary.”


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