Ghost Song

Official Video for Cecile McLorin Salvant’s New Album … Ghost Song (Copyright materials posted on YouTube hot linked on this site)

Her latest album Ghost Song is just out.

The title song from the album is in the stunning YouTube presentation above. As it happens (is it all the media out there today or my age? Or both?) I’ve missed one of music’s most original voices out there.

Not anymore. I just downloaded the entire album from iTunes and will be posting a review soon.

* * *

Thanks really go out to the radio station I stream most of the day into my office, the Bay Area’s KCSM, perhaps the word’s last remaining true great jazz station. On the campus College of San Mateo just south of the airport. A few of my old friends from my Berkeley days work their and have their own shows now. It is the last remaining great jazz station in the nation and a station that keeps alive the music of Berkely’s KRE AM Jazz Radio in the 70s and early 80s. 

I’m listening to it tonight as I usually do when I write and hear an incredible song called “I Lost My Mind.” The iTunes on my phone is playing through the UE Megaboom speakers I’ve had for a number of years. The voice and composition is amazing but it is the hynotic effect of the music and it contues to come at the listener like waves on an ocean shore.

This type of discovery sends one into an immediate Google search session where I learn a lot about her.

I went to iTunes and bought her Ghost Song album.

It should be an exciting album if the rest of the music on it is like “I Lost My Mind” and “Ghost Song.”

One of the nation’s most exciting jazz artists. New in all sorts of ways it seems to me. After hearing just two of her songs. Don’t listen to me. There are others who have been behind her for many years and know about her.

Cecile McLorin Savant

But I will probably be reviewing the new Ghost Song album soon as I just downloaded it on iTunes.

Before our review of the entire album, see our review of the piece of music that first got me interested in Savant. This is her “I Lost My Mind” from the Ghost Song album.

Read Wikipedia about Savant.

A great article on Savant is in the recent NY Times on 3/3/22. The first part of the article is below. Click on the link to read the full article.

Savant is not exactly an unknown as she is perhaps the great voice of jazz today.

Her strategy and techniques are what are the the most interesting.

These techniques are varied but she is one of the great magicians of jazz and music today.

(John Fraim is author of Spirit Catcher: The Art and Life of John Coltrane – 1990)


Cécile McLorin Salvant’s Album Tackles a Newer Archive: Her Own

The vocalist who dares to take on older music with unsavory history turns inward on “Ghost Song,” her most revealing and rewarding album yet.

Cécile McLorin Salvant’s new album, “Ghost Song,” looks within and doesn’t blink.

By Giovanni Russonello / New York Times / March 3, 2022

Since her arrival on the jazz scene about a dozen years ago, Cécile McLorin Salvant has made a practice of shining a black light on the unsavory history of American popular song. She sings standards, show tunes and old novelties in a taut, flinty, elusively beautiful voice, erring toward material with difficult lyrics and tough places in history. Salvant wins over her audiences by tweaking them slightly: daring them to go there with her — not just into the archive, but toward the darkness of the past.

Today, you’re as likely to hear jazz’s most decorated vocalistsinging a tune like “You Bring Out the Savage in Me” (a Valaida Snow vehicle from the mid-1930s that Salvant has called “so ​​racist and perfect and hilarious”), or Burt Bacharach’s “Wives and Lovers” (sample lyric: “Wives should always be lovers, too/Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you/I’m warning you!”), as to find her doing the typical standard, or a jazz take on a pop tune, or an original.

But on “Ghost Song,” a new album out on Friday, Salvant has applied that daring-to-go-there ethic to something else: herself, writing music that looks within and doesn’t blink. In conceiving the LP, Salvant spent more time leafing through her own notebooks than she did the Great American Songbook.

“Some of my favorite stuff to read is always the letters and the journals and diaries,” she said, talking about the artists that inspire her. “I love to see where the thinking happens, and I think I wanted, in a way, to share that. I wanted to translate that feeling to an album.”

Salvant, 32, was speaking via video chat from her apartment in central Brooklyn, and she brandished her notebook for the camera. It serves a lot of functions, she said: journal, day planner, sketch pad, lyric book.

“Ghost Song” is her first album to feature more originals than covers, and it breaks away hard from the sounds and structures of small-group jazz, which Salvant had been treating as a kind of gilded cage. At the same time, she’s keeping her links to the past, through the mixing bowl of styles she writes in and the covers she’s included. Some tracks feature a banjo, a flute and hand percussion, but no bassist or drummer. On one, a cathedral-grade pipe organ pushes the piano aside. All together, the result is her most revealing and rewarding record yet.

A kind of romantic wariness, bordering on pessimism, forms a leitmotif on this album — though it rarely tips into despair. It’s there on her blazing cover of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights,” and on “Dead Poplar,” for which Salvant put music to a letter Alfred Stieglitz had written Georgia O’Keeffe, in which he sounds both loving and conflicted. It should tell you something that the sunniest original composition on the album is called “Thunderclouds.”

The archive-trolling music for which she’s best known has garnered Salvant a level of steadily mounting success that’s almost unheard-of for a jazz musician these days. Each of her past three LPs won the Grammy for best jazz vocal album, and in 2020 she was named a MacArthur fellow. But as Salvant has embraced the unruliness of her creativity, she’s realized that the boundaries holding her in place as a virtuoso jazz vocalist were always artificial.

The same day she releases “Ghost Song,” her first solo exhibition will open at Picture Room, a gallery near her home in central Brooklyn. The show, also titled “Ghost Song,” features a selection of her embroideries and drawings, which seem indebted in equal measure to the cutouts of Henri Matisse, the market paintings of Haitian tradition, the tapestries of Moki Cherry (“I’m obsessed,” Salvant said of the Swedish textile artist), and the eerie, three-dimensional canvases that Salvant remembers seeing her sister, Aisha McLorin, make when she was younger.

She’s also been applying a designer’s eye to her own attire, which in the past few years has grown explosively colorful. Performing at BRIC JazzFest in October, in a duet with the pianist Sullivan Fortner — her frequent creative partner and her co-producer on “Ghost Song” — Salvant wore a flowing purple dress, silver boots and a wiry, oversize necklace that she had made herself, as she volleyed comfortably with Fortner over standards and Sondheim.

“It’s very rare that we’ll actually talk about music. We never practice together,” Fortner said in a phone interview, explaining that they’re more likely to visit a museum in their off hours. “Her awareness of all of the arts informs her music, and it’s taught me to kind of do the same.”

(Completed reading the article by clicking the hot link NY Times 3/3/22 above)

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