13 November 2009
Cassandra Wilson Sings the 'Standards'
By Doug Levine
16 November 2002
Years before jazz singer Cassandra Wilson rose to international acclaim on Blue Note Records she enjoyed a six-year solo stint on the JMT label. She recorded seven albums for JMT covering everything from pop and gospel to original acoustic blues and jazz standards. A new CD highlights Wilson's pivotal JMT years, titled Cassandra Wilson Sings Standards.
Cassandra Wilson proved herself a commanding singer of jazz standards on her 1990 album Blue Skies. Four of the 11 tracks on her new compilation come from Blue Skies, including Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer's I'm Old Fashioned.
Cassandra Wilson always had a passion for singing standards. Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, she learned to play piano and guitar while honing her vocal skills. In 1982, she moved to New York to work with singer Abbey Lincoln, bassist Dave Holland, and jazz groups New Air and M-Base Collective.
Her solo debut album, Point Of View, features an original arrangement of the Miles Davis standard, Blue In Green. The track inspired Wilson to record her 1999 Miles Davis tribute album, Traveling Miles.
Legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk was another important musical influence.
In addition to Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, Cassandra Wilson covers standards by Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe, Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Green, Ralph Rainger and Dorothy Parker.
Wilson returned to her usual blending of jazz, pop, rock, folk and Delta blues on her 2002 album, Belly Of The Sun, featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Jimmy Webb, James Taylor, The Band and "Mississippi" Fred McDowell.