ARTicle Magazine

Cécile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers review

Colin Morris · 19 October 2017

Music reviewer Colin Morris shares his thoughts on Cécile McLorin Salvant's new album, Dreams and Daggers

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Image: Hector Perez

Cécile will appear at the New Zealand Festival for a one-night-only concert at Michael Fowler Centre with the Aaron Diehl Trio on Tuesday 13 March 2018. Find out more here

What a coup!  One of the first signing to the 2018 New Zealand Festival (23 Feb – 18 March) is Cécile McLorin Savant one of the best up-and coming female jazz singers in the world who also manages to grace the cover of the October edition of Downbeat Magazine.

Her French/Haitian parents taught her the value of questioning everything and Salvant, displaying a fierce independence, has put that trait to good use in her selection of unusual songs on Dreams and Daggers.                  

In this double album, half the choices are what you would expect: selections from the Great American Songbook; the other half being songs many have stayed away from. But Salvant wants to explore minstrel, blackface, classic blues and the like and as yet has not explored the pop catalogue in any great depth, although the inclusion of Bacharach/David’s Wives and Lovers, among the most sexist of songs, is a case in point where Salvant is willing to take chances.

It is the studio recorded songs that appeal the most and with a string quartet added they manage to imbue the choices with a subtle delicacy. Josephine’s Baker’s 1920s If I Where White, Bessie Smith’s You’ve Got to Give Me Some and Sam Jones Blues plus Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues are also examples of songs rarely covered these days.

Her dislike of the trapping of studio wizardry, that of overdubs, editing and so on means that the live tracks from The Village Vanguard nightclub are as gloriously naked as they should be. Her regular trio all get to shine as well.

A wonderful album that will win her many plaudits and chart success.

★★★★ 4 stars

Dreams and Daggers Spotify Playlist