The Jazzcat

Cecile McLorin Salvant Holding Court at Catalina’s Bar and Grill

by on Mar.01, 2014, under Events

Wow there has not been this much excitement and anticipation about a singer on the scene in such a long time. This is the energy that should be happening every night of the week here in Los Angeles and around the globe when it comes to jazz music. The last time experienced this was when Esperanza performed here at Catalina’s Bar and Grill. The label is having a VIP reception, the press, radio jocks, writers some the hippest people on the jazz scene are all present and accounted for. What is the most interesting is the sea of new faces comprising an audience that I have never seen before waiting with baited for the young, talented Cecile McLorin Salvant!

 From the first note the ever present and omnificent tone is evident as Cecile wasted no time sweeping them off their feet; she had them at hello. “I Only have Eyes For You”, taking standards and weaving together tradition, range, and style as she swims through the registers as gracious as a dolphin dance!  

In 1905, a Black comedian wrote a piece called “nobody”. The story is told just like an old time fairytale. There are lovely theatrics, animation and cute comedy that backed up by a wisdom of sound inspired by the likes of Abbey, Ella, Sassy, Carmen and Betty.

“Laugh Clown Laugh” a song written about the clown Pagliacci, of course reminds me of Abbey Lincoln and in listening tonight, I hear a bit of Betty as well but, make no mistake, Cecil has a sound and style all her own and once she has captured you heart, she is in command. I love the way she plays with the phrase, Operatic and Theatrical mixed with the magic and re-invention of the new generation. 
“There is a Lull in My Life”, a tune displaying the simplicity of straight-ahead melodies that support the garden of fragrant tones with crystal clarity and a crisp delivery that commands silence as it ascends and caresses the tip of the registry.

Twenty-four you say?  Light in years but rich in wisdom, Cecile has listened to and learned from the best adding a touch of humor, a dazzling bright smile and a clear command of playful improvisation.

“Woman Child” the first thing that she wrote that she did not completely hate, a mid tempo “schving” that she paints her lovely embellished colors all over. There is no doubt that she is capturing hearts, but also weaving together past and present as the cipher’s illustrious magnetism lures all ages from far and wide.
She proceeds to do a Bessie Smith dirty blues with the title phrase “You’ve got to Give Me Some” and the audience smiles and laughs with delight as she has them under the spell of her sophisticated humor and swagger. From Cole Porter classics to original music delivered light, lovely and rich.

“John Henry”, classic rhythm to a cappella precision, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”, a beautiful artistic approach that silhouettes her precious control of the upper register are just a few examples of the prism. Yes, she has rolled it all into one and clearly can take the high, low or any road she chooses. She is the unquantifiable captain of and extraordinary vessel navigating smoothly over the choppy waters of jazz sailing into the dawn of a new day with a bright future!

LeRoy Downs.



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