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Blue Skies

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Album Review

On 1988's Blue Skies, Cassandra Wilson took her first step away from the home she had built with Steve Coleman's M-Base organization. She'd done standards before, all the way back to 1985's Songbook. There are no M-Base players on this JMT set. She fronts a very conventional trio comprised of pianist Mulgrew Miller, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and bassist Lonnie Plaxico. The last of these is very significant because it would be Plaxico who directed her very startling and focused transformation when she signed to Blue Note Records in 1993 and released Blue Light 'Til Dawn. The program is pure standard fare, from "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and "Shall We Dance?" to the title track and Rodgers & Hart's "I Didn't Know It What Time It Was." This cut is the most startling break from the rest in that it is much more forceful and hard-swinging than other readings, and showcases for the first time Wilson's tremendous individuality as a vocalist. There is much of Betty Carter still in her style here, but on this cut, she's pure Wilson, even the scatting comes not from jazz but from the blues of Wilson's Mississippi homeland. Another standout is Carter Burwell's "Sweet Lorraine," which wasn't quite a standard at the time but is quickly becoming one covered by many singers and is delivered in the classic repertoire's lineage. Not a masterpiece, but a really compelling first experiment with the more intimate forms and smaller groups Wilson would employ later on.

Customer Reviews

I'm old fashioned

I just love the way she sings this. Her voice just seems to fit this song. When she scats-----WOW. I'm using this for my ringtone.


Born: December 4, 1955 in Jackson, MS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although her recording career has been somewhat erratic, Cassandra Wilson became one of the top jazz singers of the '90s, a vocalist blessed with a distinctive and flexible voice who is not afraid to take chances. She began playing piano and guitar when she was nine and was working as a vocalist by the mid-'70s, singing a wide variety of material. Following a year in New Orleans, Wilson moved to New York in 1982 and began working with Dave Holland and Abbey Lincoln. After meeting Steve Coleman, she...
Full Bio
Blue Skies, Cassandra Wilson
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