Eminent vocalist Cassandra Wilson is poised to unveil her newest CD, thunderbird, April 4th on Blue Note Records, and with it what Paste magazine calls “a different sound...broad, open, built around keyboards rather than small percussion instruments and gentle acoustic guitars” in a 4-star review in their May issue.
Wilson will also grace the cover of the May issue of JazzTimes magazine, which hits stands on April 25th with a bold headline that announces “Cassandra Wilson Returns With A New Sound.”
That “new sound” is largely due to the presence of a new production team, including the acclaimed Grammy-winning producer T Bone Burnett and co-producer Keefus Ciancia, who lead Wilson's distinctive blend of original songs with blues and pop covers, a potent mix that has been at the foundation of such Wilson classics as Blue Light 'Til Dawn and the Grammy-winning New Moon Daughter, into new sonic realms.
Paste reviewer Martin Johnson goes on to state that “the change in music hasn't altered Wilson's overall aesthetic; she's still delving deeply into the roots of the Delta and celebrating its eclectic possibilities,” as is evidenced by the album's centerpiece, an epic performance of the classic Blind Lemon Jefferson blues “Easy Rider,” as well as a spacious, stripped-down version of the traditional “Red River Valley” on which Wilson's contralto and Colin Linden's slide guitar intertwine seamlessly.
However, from the very first sounds on thunderbird, the irrepressible opening track “Go To Mexico,” which is built upon a sample from New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian band the Wild Tchoupitoulas, it's clear Wilson has delved into new territory. On the album's first radio single, “It Would Be So Easy,” Reginald Veal's acoustic bass intro gives way to Mike Elizondo's gliding electric bass while Ciancia sets up an insistent keyboard hook that would be at home in a modern R&B or hip-hop hit.
Wilson's alluring vocals have long been held in high regard by the R&B and hip-hop worlds. She's been featured on two albums by The Roots (Do You Want More?!!!??! and Illadelph Halflife) and was a standout presence on the 1997 neo-soul soundtrack Love Jones. Her most recent foray into hip-hop comes on Confidential, the new solo album from rapper M-1 of Dead Prez, which was released March 21st and features Wilson along with Q-Tip on the track “Love You Can't Borrow.”
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