Tuesday, May 13
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Sponsored by Carolyn Hyatt and Joe Hyatt
“… individuality and authenticity.” – London Jazz News
Cassandra Wilson, widely considered the greatest singer of her generation, changed the way that people thought of jazz with her landmark album Blue Light ‘Til Dawn in 1993. Twenty years ago Wilson’s debut solo album for Blue Note Records, Blue Light ‘Til Dawn, was hailed for its adventurous forays outside the American Songbook. Wilson incorporated blues, country and folk into her work in a brand new way and pushed the boundaries for mainstream jazz vocalists. Whether singing an original composition, or re-imagining pop tunes from her youth, such as Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, or Joni Mitchell’s Black Crow, Wilson imbues all of it with a fresh sensibility. The album earned her widespread critical acclaim, mainstream commercial success, and the unqualified title “America’s Best Singer” in Time Magazine. Blue Note Records is releasing a re-mastered and expanded 20th anniversary edition of her debut recording, Blue Light ‘Til Dawn. This tour will also incorporate many of new songs never released before.
Cassandra Wilson grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, deeply enmeshed in music. At six years of age, she started playing piano. At twelve, she was learning guitar to accompany her developing vocal style, mostly listening to, and singing, folk music. While attending Millsaps College, Wilson was developing her foundation as a performer singing in R&B and funk bands at night, and studying bebop with John Reese and Alvin Fielder. The ’80s were a time of exploration and experimentation for Wilson, beginning with her collaboration in saxophonist Steve Coleman’s M-Base collective, a group of young creative players and composers. As Wilson’s artistry grew, she eventually split-off to work on her own ideas. A key part of her vision was realized with the release of her 1993 Blue Note Records debut, Blue Light ‘Til Dawn. The use of popular songs by jazz artists was very common in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. But, with the rise of rock music in the ’60s, jazz artists who covered rock tunes, usually at the behest of record producers, were often accused of “selling out.” What an earlier generation of jazz masters might have dismissed as lacking in harmonic and melodic sophistication, Wilson saw as a new expressive vehicle. Her reworking of Take the Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees, a group often criticized as a lightweight, pre-fab, ’60s pop/rock band for teeny boppers, raised more than a few eyebrows. Wilson shaped it into a sultry, earthy jazz excursion driven by an understated Bo Diddley beat. Her versions of country legend Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Joni Mitchell’s Black Crow, and Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey were also imaginatively done.
The release of Blue Light ‘Til Dawn propelled Wilson’s career onto a steadily rising arc through the ’90s and the ’00s, an arc that has included the achievement of two Grammy Awards, one for Best Vocal Jazz Performance for New Moon Daughter, in 1996, and once again, in 2009, for Loverly. In 1997, she was the featured performer in Blood on the Fields, Wynton Marsalis’ Pulitzer Prize winning work. Cassandra has also been a recipient of the Edison Music Award and the Django D’Or. Over the past two decades, Wilson has released eight follow up albums on the Blue Note label to critical raves, and established herself as a major artist on the level of her musical heroes, Abby Lincoln, Betty Carter, and Sarah Vaughan.
DATE: Tuesday, May 13, 2014
VENUE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIMES: 7:00 and 9:00 PM
PRICE: $32/Adv $37/Door, No Comps
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at: http://kuumbwajazz.org
MORE INFO: http://kuumbwajazz.org or 831-427-2227
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