Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cassandra Wilson and her Silver Pony

Cassandra Wilson and her Silver Pony (English) - Cassandra Wilson en haar Zilveren Pony ( Nederlands)

The story behind a snapshot.....
CASSANDRA WILSON and her SILVER PONY
Hans Koert

Deja vu: When I was 6 or 7 years old a man with a photo camera visited our village of Hoedekenskerke in the south west part of The Netherlands and made pictures of the kids who loved to be dressed like a farmer, including a
n old fashioned yoke. I can't tell you if my parents where happy with it - fact was, that they had to buy the photo.

When she was four, .... a man showed up in her neighbourhood, going door to door with a pony and camera: Pay to get your picture taken. Her brothers, both older, refused. One thought it beneath him, the other frightened. Cassandra, that was her name, wanted to step up, get that shot. Her mother could have said you're too young - she did, in fact. She could have have reminded her there were certain things ladies just don't do. .... But she let her do it because I guess she saw something in me - that I was fearless - and she wanted to encourage that.

A few weeks ago Cassandra Wilson released her latest album, Silver Pony at the Blue Note label. The album contains almost a dozen tracks, both live in concert as studio recordings.

Cassandra Wilson (photo courtesy: http://www.cassandrawilson.com/)

Cassandra Wilson was born in Jackson, Mississippi, December 1955, near New Orleans, where she played with local musicians like Ellis Marsalis. She moved to New Jersey and later New York where she became a member of the bands of Steve Coleman and Greg Osby ( M-Base ). Her first own album, entitled Points of View, a mix of Jazz and hip-hop elements, was with musicians like Grachan Monchur III and Steve Coleman. In her next albums she developed from the funky sounds of the 1980s M-Base to more mainstream albums. Cassandra's voice was noticed by Blue Note who started to make records with her, like Blue Light 'Til Dawn. Thanks to this album she became known to the general public.
Cassandra Wilson - Silver Pony ( Blue Note 29752 )

She surprises with the tunes she selected, like a Joni Mitchell song or Robert Johnson originals. Her selections are often notable: the surprising thing about it is, that she always selects tunes that seem to be forgotten or neglected by others. But, she said in an interview entitled Het blues-gevoel van Cassandra Wilson ( by Marnix Koers) in the Dutch Jazz magazine (summer 2006) Die liedjes kiezen mij. (= The songs select me). Ze dringen zich op aan mijn ziel en dan zit er voor mij niets anders op dan ze uit te voeren. ( = They force themselfs to my soul and then I have no choice - I have to use it).

Cassandra Wilson (photo courtesy: http://www.cassandrawilson.com/ )

She tells how she got inspired at a concert in Granada (Spain) in November 2009. She was touring along Europe with a band, featuring guitarist Marvin Sewell, who is a member of her group for more then a decade; double bass player Reginald Veal, Jonathan Batiste, a piano player, originally from New Orleans and Herlin Riley, drummer and percussionist Lekan Babalola. During that concert the idea for her new album was born and several live tracks, as it seems, were used for this album. The studio recordings were scheduled a month later in New Orleans at the Piety Street Recording Studios. I thought, she said to Larry Blumenfeld in the liner notes of her album, I thought, I’m going to play some of this stuff for the guys, let them listen to it, and begin to grow ideas out of what we'd done. And it really did happen.

Reginald Veal at the Porgy en Bess Jazz club in Terneuzen (The Netherlands) October 2009) ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

The track list of the album contains several of her own recordings like A Night in Seville, refering to her concerts in Spain, Beneath a Silver Moon and the title track Silver Pony. The latter has a great intro by percussionist Lekan Babalola and bass player Reginald Veal and when Cassandra sings, Marvin Swell accompanies her in a great way at his electric guitar.

Cassandra Wilson (photo courtesy: http://www.cassandrawilson.com/ )

The well known tune Lover Come Back To Me is own of my favourites - it's the Granada live recording version from November 2009 and it opens with a fat rhythmical pattern with the brushes of Herlin Riley and a piano entry, before Cassandra starts to sing the tune. Wow - what a swinging performance. Another tune that surprises is Saddle Up My Pony, a Charley Patton composition, the Voice Of The Delta (Blues), with a great for Marvin Sewell on the slide guitar. A great Delta Blues performance. And what to think about that traditional St. James Infirmary. Cassandra creates, together with Marvin Sewell on the slide guitar, a complete new version of this often rather boring standard.

Reginald Veal at the Porgy en Bess Jazz club in Terneuzen (The Netherlands) (October 2009) (photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Cassandra Wilson loves to record in New Orleans and in the Mississippi Delta. She lived for more then a half year, previous to the 2009 European tour, in New Orleans, in the French Quarter, where her mother lived. She wanted to be close to her mother, in her final days; her mother passed away in May 2009. In the mean time she enjoyed the city anf the Delta and its musical spirits - the region where she was raised - the places of her roots:
The place where the salt water and fresh water get mixed.
Cassandra Wilson (photo courtesy: http://www.cassandrawilson.com/)

When Cassandra moved as a young adult to New York she wanted to make it - she wanted to be like Betty Carter. I wanted to be Betty. She aske
d Betty to teach her to sing like her. How then does a young woman become a jazz vocalist? She asked Betty: You just do it. Betty answered.


The story of the snapshot of little four-years old Cassandra on the back of the pony, dressed as a cowboy, symbolizes her strong ambitions: ........ wearing a cowboy hat, bandana around the neck, reins in hand, sitting proudly in the saddle, barely sensing then but knowing ful well now what that move meant.

Cassandra Wilson: Silver Pony ( Blue Note 29752 )

Hans Koert

http://www.twitter.com/keepswinging

keepswinging@live.nl

The story of the snapshot of little four-years old Cassandra on the back of the pony, dressed as a cowboy, symbolizes her strong ambitions: ........ wearing a cowboy hat, bandana around the neck, reins in hand, sitting proudly in the saddle, barely sensing then but knowing ful well now what that move meant. Cassandra Wilson named her latest album Silver Pony to this early shapshot - a selection of tunes which will surprises you ..... Keep Swinging played it for you. If you don't want to miss any contribution, follow its contributions at Twitter or ask for its free newsletter.

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