Cassandra Wilson

By JON GARELICK  |  April 24, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars
ENHANCED ROOTS: Cassandra Wilson gets her groove back on Thunderbird.On 2003’s Glamoured, a decade after shaking up ideas about jazz vocal records and repertoire with producer Craig Street and guitarist Brandon Ross on Blue Light til Dawn (Blue Note), Cassandra Wilson seemed to have settled into a steady state of artful, loose-tempo, dreamy jazz pop. Which is why it’s so refreshing to hear her singing over actual grooves on Thunderbird. New producer T-Bone Burnett combines the rootsy elements that have become part of her musical identity with contemporary trip-hoppy production. So the standout tracks — “Going to Mexico,” with its Wild Tchoupitoulas “Hey Pocky A-Way” sample, and “It Would Be So Easy,” with its ticka-ticka keyboard and guitar figures — groove, giving a flexible spine to Wilson’s mile-wide alto and free-flowing delivery. On dependable ancient blues like “Easy Rider” and Willie Dixon’s “I Want To Be Loved,” Burnett isn’t afraid to lay on the slide guitar and a rock beat. It’s deliberate but unfussy production, especially effective when the beats clear for some acoustic jazz piano chords and Wilson sings, “You know, the man I love/He must be out of town.” Reginald Veal’s bass playing underscores the jazz sensibility throughout. After a couple of listens, I even got to like Wilson’s “Red River Valley.”
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Willie Dixon, T-Bone Burnett, Cassandra Wilson,  More more >
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