This report and those to follow this week must be brief if we are to come at all close to catching up, which is—of course—impossible as long as record companies release recordings in such profusion. Many of those “companies” are struggling artists hoping for publicity, using CDs as business cards. Others are established corporations. Either way, hardly a day goes by without the mailman or delivery companies dropping off more music than we can rarely do more than sample. Even sampling would be a challenge if we chose, say, only one track per album. So, with instinct, experience and curiosity as our guides, we plunge on, trying to keep up—and keep you up— with the music materializing at Rifftides world headquarters. As you may have seen in comments, more than one reader has suggested that we package the excess albums and send them to him or her. Nice try, but proprietary and legal considerations make that impossible.
Now, then: onward…
Cécile McLorin Salvant, Dreams And Daggers (Mack Avenue)
We just became aware that the disarmingly talented Ms. Salvant and her record company Mack Avenue are in the process of preparing her next album. Somehow, in a log-in and storage goof, her last effort, Dreams And Daggers, got lost in the shuffle. The two-CD collection has 23 songs, five of which have original lyrics by the singer. The other pieces are standards, some seldom heard, by Kurt Weil, Langston Hughes, Irving Berlin, Julie Styne, Bob Dorough, Noel Coward and Frank Loesser. Ms. Salvant, pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Lawrence Leathers are so formidable overall that it is difficult to single out performances. Her interpretation of the Weil-Hughes collaboration “Somehow I Never Could Believe” is a triumph. Of the classics, Ms. Savant saturates Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now” with tenderness, regret, and anger that make the song a wrenching denouement in keeping with its “Porgy And Bess” heritage. At an opposite emotional extreme, with Diehl sitting out, she, Skivie and Leather take the 1920s pop song “Runnin’ Wild” at the pace of a fast run. After one exhilarating chorus, they stop on a dime, to the hilarious amusement of the Village Vanguard audience. The album is a masterpiece, further establishing Ms. Salvant as a formidable talent.
Tomorrow, further listening in brief. Please come back.