Sept. 25, 2018 | Suraya Mohamed — Standing behind the Tiny Desk with solely pianist Sullivan Fortner by her aspect, jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant remarked that she hadn’t been this nervous shortly. But it surely was arduous to inform: She embraced the discomfort with ease, taking command of the area with a peaceful demeanor and religious presence that felt each humble and persuasive.
From listening to McLorin Salvant’s beautiful efficiency right here, I additionally couldn’t inform that when she was 15, she was listening to Alice in Chains, sported a Mohawk and was into what she calls “radical feminist punk stuff,” as she instructed NPR after the efficiency. “Typically I nonetheless actually like Bikini Kill, and I nonetheless have my little Pearl Jam grunge moments.”
What will be heard in every tune is a seasoned jazz singer with an unlimited vocal vary, meticulous technical execution and an excellent classical vocal basis, which truly started when she was simply 8. Her background in classical piano is clear within the ingenious harmonic and melodic development of the primary three songs heard right here; all are romantically themed McLorin Salvant compositions from her third album, For One to Love, recorded in 2015. The file gained her a 2016 Grammy for Greatest Jazz Vocal Album.
McLorin Salvant closes with “Omie Sensible,” an American folks tune that tells the tragic story of homicide sufferer Naomi Sensible and her husband and killer, John Lewis:
Then pushed her in deep waters the place he knew that she would drown
He jumped on his pony and away he did trip
The screams of little Omie went down by his aspect.
Feminist themes are widespread in McLorin Salvant’s music, and whereas “Omie Sensible” addresses gender-based violence, she says she sings troublesome songs like this to deal with an necessary historic legacy. “We don’t sing to our children and we don’t know any of our folks music anymore,” McLorin Salvant says. “However like the entire historical past of race songs, coon songs, minstrel music, music from Vaudeville, all of that’s like, ‘No, we’re not going to deal with that — that’s too ugly.’”
Whereas the phrases in “Omie Sensible” hit arduous, the ballad’s melody — like the entire different music performed right here — is nothing however lovely. McLorin Salvant’s fifth album, a duo file with Fortner, comes out Sept. 28.
“Look At Me”
Producers: Suraya Mohamed, Morgan Noelle Smith; Artistic Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Khun Minn Ohn; Manufacturing Assistant: Catherine Zhang; Photograph: Samantha Clark/NPR