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Bebop Spoken There

Randy Brecker: "It's still a thrill for me today to stand out front of a big band as the soloist and hear all that sound going on behind you. It brings the best out of me" - (DownBeat June 2019).

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2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

The voting is open between now and May 31 to enable site visitors to nominate their choices in the various categories of this year's APPJAG awards which can be done here.
BSH was very proud to be nominated and to win the 2018 Media Award and hope we can have your support again this year.

Today Monday May 20

Afternoon

Jazz

Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

?????

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tête à Tête with Cécile McLorin Salvant

(By Debra Milne).
(Photo Cécile (right) with Jean-Francois Bonnel and Daryl Sherman)
By the time I catch up with Cécile McLorin Salvant, it is towards the end of the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, after her 2nd set of the day, which was devoted to ‘Empress of the Blues’ Bessie Smith. Cécile has performed here several times, and was first brought along  in 2009 by the French reedsman Jean-Francois Bonnel, with whom she studied and performed  for a number of years.  It is particularly poignant that the festival’s founder, the greatly missed Mike Durham,  triggered   her extensive  study  of the legendary singer, by asking her to perform more Bessie Smith repertoire at this event. 
Cécile’s musical training was initially classical before she focussed on jazz, and her début album ‘Womanchild’  reflects her  breadth of interest in American musical heritage, combined with a  more contemporary approach with much of the material. Her vocal technique is excellent, and I ask whether  this is due to her classical background. She thinks not, as voice projection without a microphone is very important in classical singing, whereas in jazz the interpretation of spoken word is at the forefront.  As if to reinforce  this point, whilst we are talking several festival goers stop to relate (in French or  in English)  how much they enjoyed her Bessie Smith set, and how moved they were by her singing .  She  cites many other influences as a jazz vocalist,  and  has spent a lot of time listening to Betty Carter, as well as  a host of others including Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Shirley Horn, Blossom Dearie, Dinah Washington  and Nancy Wilson.
Jazz in all its forms seems peripheral to popular culture in the UK, so does Cécile feel it is more mainstream in the US? Not really, she says, the audience is diminishing and mainly older, with  occasional exceptions  such as at Dizzy’s in NYC which is  frequented by a lot of music students and their arty friends. Jazz is never on mainstream TV. Even in New York, the range and quality of musicians seems reduced compared to her impression of 20-30 years ago. Cécile  may have access to some of the best players around, but those with a genuine love of ‘20s and ‘30s jazz are scarce, and tend to be  more interested  in  the instrumental  perspective.  I note that, similarly, the musicians in the various sets this weekend do seem pretty obsessed with the recreation of legendary  arrangements, whereas her focus is on the interpretation of lyrics, rather than recreating  an icon from the past.
So what are Cécile's plans for the future? In the coming year she plans to record her second album, but the material, personnel and recording dates are still to be finalised. It probably will be a selection of lesser known jazz standards, and possibly 1 or 2 originals. She is writing material but feels that it is not ready to be recorded, comparing her position to that of an unnamed poet who  said that the first 200 compositions  had to be written (badly), before one was able to create good poems.  Meanwhile, she has a busy schedule performing worldwide, in Europe, North and South America and Japan, with artists such as the Christian McBride Trio and Wynton Marsalis, the latter at the Lincoln Center. It seems that her career is on the brink of a big change.  She modestly denies this,  however, when I suggest that her next visit to north-east England is more likely to be at a bigger venue such as Sage Gateshead, Cécile  is most enthusiastic.  But our time  for conversation is up, as she has to go and prepare for possibly her last ever  performance at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, in a set of later Ellingtonia.  She may now be moving  on  in  her  journey  to  internationally acclaimed jazz singer,  but the experience Cécile McLorin Salvant has gained from her participation in this unique event is likely to have  a  significant  influence on her entire career.
Debra Milne.

1 comment :

Lance said...

Debra, Cécile's CD may or may not be the CD of the year. Her gig's are in the running but, irrespective, this has to be our interview of the year!

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