Cassandra Wilson – Slow Down Woman

Cassandra Wilson – Slow Down Woman

 Cassandra Wilson – Slow Down Woman

 

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Cassandra Wilson – Slow Down Woman

 
Cassandra Wilson (born December 4, 1955) is an American jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer from Jackson, Mississippi. Described by critic Gary Giddins as “a singer blessed with an unmistakable timbre and attack [who has] expanded the playing field” by incorporating blues, country, and folk music into her work, Wilson has won two Grammy Awards.

Like fellow M-Base artists, Wilson signed to the Munich-based, independent label JMT. She released her first recording as a leader Point of View in 1986. Like the majority of her JMT albums that followed, originals by Wilson in keeping with M-Base dominated these sessions; she would also record material by and co-written with Coleman, Jean-Paul Bourelly, and James Weidman as well as a few standards. Her throaty contralto gradually emerges over the course of these recordings, making its way to the foreground. She developed a remarkable ability to stretch and bend pitches, elongate syllables, manipulate tone and timbre from dusky to hollow.

While these recordings established her as a serious musician, Wilson received her first broad critical acclaim for the album of standards recorded in the middle of this period, Blue Skies (1988). Her signing with Blue Note Records in 1993 marked a crucial turning point in her career and major breakthrough to audiences beyond jazz with albums selling in the hundreds of thousands of copies.

Beginning with Blue Light ‘Til Dawn (1993) her repertoire moved towards a broad synthesis of blues, pop, jazz, world music, and country. Although she continued to perform originals and standards, she adopted songs as diverse as Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen”, Joni Mitchell’s “Black Crow”, The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville”, and Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”.

Not only did Wilson effectively reconnect vocal jazz with its blues roots, she was arguably the first to convincingly fashion post-British Invasion pop into jazz, trailblazing a path that many have since followed. Furthermore, producer Craig Street drew from pop production techniques to create a rich ambient environment around her voice, magnifying it and giving sonic depth to Brandon Ross’ sparse but incredibly vivid arrangements, which used steel guitar, violin, accordion, and percussion.

Wilson’s 1996 album New Moon Daughter won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. In 1997, she recorded and toured as a featured vocalist with Wynton Marsalis’ Pulitzer Prize winning composition, Blood on the Fields.

The late Miles Davis was one of Wilson’s greatest influences. In 1989, Wilson performed as the opening act for Davis at the JVC Jazz Festival in Chicago. In 1999 she produced Traveling Miles as a tribute to Davis. The album developed from a series of jazz concerts that she performed at Lincoln Center in November 1997 in Davis’ honor, and includes three selections based on Davis’ own compositions, from which Wilson adapted the original themes.

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