“Cécile McLorin Salvant reminds jazz lovers of the great vocalists of yore even as she puts forth an insouciant individuality. Born in Miami to a Haitian father and French mother, the polyglot charmer won the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition and can count Wynton Marsalis among her fans.
Her technique is crystaline, her phrasing sensual, her repertoire deep. Moreover, she’s at ease with breaking the rules. On her swinging, self-released debut and 2013’s more textured WomanChild, the vocalist echoes prewar stars Bessie Smith, Valaida Snow and Ethel Waters and ventures into songs by Erik Satie, John Lennon and tunes of her own devising. Making the old sound new and the offbeat feel inevitable, she’s a jazz songbird for the 21st century.”
Downbeat Magazine (The 80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today, July 2014)
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Cécile’s self-title debut (full album):
Cécile’s 2nd album, WomanChild (2013):
Billie Holiday & Lester Young (1937-1941)
Stream or Download individual tracks @ Internet Archive
The first popular jazz singer to move audiences with the intense, personal feeling of classic blues, Billie Holiday changed the art of American pop vocals forever. More than a half-century after her death, it’s difficult to believe that prior to her emergence, jazz and pop singers were tied to the Tin Pan Alley tradition and rarely personalized their songs; only blues singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey actually gave the impression they had lived through what they were singing. Billie Holiday’s highly stylized reading of this blues tradition revolutionized traditional pop, ripping the decades-long tradition of song plugging in two by refusing to compromise her artistry for either the song or the band. She made clear her debts to Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong (in her autobiography she admitted, “I always wanted Bessie’s big sound and Pops‘ feeling”), but in truth her style was virtually her own, quite a shock in an age of interchangeable crooners and band singers.
With her spirit shining through on every recording, Holiday’s technical expertise also excelled in comparison to the great majority of her contemporaries. Often bored by the tired old Tin Pan Alley songs she was forced to record early in her career, Holiday fooled around with the beat and the melody, phrasing behind the beat and often rejuvenating the standard melody with harmonies borrowed from her favorite horn players, Armstrong and Lester Young. (She often said she tried to sing like a horn.) Her notorious private life — a series of abusive relationships, substance addictions, and periods of depression — undoubtedly assisted her legendary status, but Holiday’s best performances (“Lover Man,” “Don’t Explain,” “Strange Fruit,” her own composition “God Bless the Child”) remain among the most sensitive and accomplished vocal performances ever recorded. More than technical ability, more than purity of voice, what madeBillie Holiday one of the best vocalists of the century – easily the equal of Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra – was her relentlessly individualist temperament, a quality that colored every one of her endlessly nuanced performances.
KEEP ON READING AMG’S BIOGRAPHY
“This Year’s Kisses” (1937)
“Laughing at Life” (1940)
“Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)” (1941)
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The phenomenal human-hurricane Janis Joplin was born 71 years ago, and as a tribute to her music here’s a mixtape that starts with her awesome song “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder”. In this digital music-box shared above, Janis is joined with lots of great female voices singing the blues: Bessie Smith, “After You’ve Gone”; Big Mama Thornton, “Willie Mae’s Trouble”; Nina Simone, “I Wish I Knew How It Felt to be Free”; Susan Tedeschi, “It Hurt So Bad”; Aretha Franklin, “The Thrill is Gone”; Beth Gibbons of Portishead, “Numb”; Eleni Mandell, “Moonglow, Lamp Low”; Lisa Germano, “Red Thread”; and Os Mutantes (With Rita Lee), “Meu Refrigerador Não Funciona”. Enjoy the ride! And trip on with some of Janis’ classics: