Cassandra Wilson – Coming Forth By Day (2015)

FrontCover1.jpgComing Forth by Day is a studio album by American jazz singer Cassandra Wilson. The album was released on April 6, 2015 via Legacy Recordings label.

The album is a homage to legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the singer’s birth. The album includes 11 cover versions of famous jazz standards associated with Holiday and an original composition written by Cassandra Wilson—”Last Song (For Lester)”—imagined to be a heartbreaking final message from Holiday to her musical love, Lester Young.

Christopher Loudon of JazzTimes wrote, “Though it’s disheartening to realize that even an artist as eminent as Cassandra Wilson had to turn to PledgeMusic to fund her centenary salute to Billie Holiday, it’s best to set aside such state-of-things ponderings and focus on the outcome. Which is, in a word, exquisite. It’s also clever, insightful and, though utterly respectful to Holiday as source and touchstone, strikingly original.”

John Fordham of The Guardian noted, “Singer Jose James’ recent tribute to Billie Holiday saw a fine singer and a hip jazz trio sprinkling personal magic on timeless songs with careful respect. Cassandra Wilson’s angle on Holiday is very different: a radical, big-production remake of the great vocalist’s music with the rhythm section from Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds giving the repertoire a thick-textured, abstract blues-rock feel, while a luxurious strings section embraces the ballads.” (by wikipedia)

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Perhaps the pairing of Cassandra Wilson and Billie Holiday carries a whiff of inevitability, but there’s nothing predictable about Coming Forth by Day. Released to coincide with Holiday’s centennial in 2015, Coming Forth by Day explicitly celebrates Lady Day by drawing upon standards she sang in addition to songs she wrote, but Wilson deliberately sidesteps the conventional by hiring Nick Launay as a producer. As a result of his work with Nick Cave, Launay mastered a certain brand of spooky Americana, something that comes in handy with the Holiday catalog, but Coming Forth by Day is never too thick with murk. It luxuriates in its atmosphere, sometimes sliding into a groove suggesting smooth ’70s soul, often handsomely evoking a cinematic torch song — moods that complement each other and suggest Holiday’s work without replicating it. This is a neat trick: such flexibility suggests how adaptable Holiday’s songbook is while underscoring the imagination behind Wilson’s interpretations. Certainly, Launay deserves credit for his painterly production, but the success of Coming Forth by Day belongs entirely to Wilson, who proves that she’s an heir to Holiday’s throne by never once imitating her idol. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Kevin Breit (guitar)
T Bone Burnett (guitar)
Charlie Burnham (violin)
Martyn P. Casey (bass)
Jon Cowherd (keyboards)
Davide Direnzo (drums)
Robby Marshall (woodwind)
Lonnie Plaxico (bass)
Cassandra Wilson (vocals, guitar)
Thomas Wydler (drums)
Nick Zinner (guitar)
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Van Dyke Parks – string arrangementsa

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Tracklist:
01. Don’t Explain (Herzog/Holiday) 4.35
02. Billie’s Blues (Holiday) 5.08
03. Crazy He Calls Me (Sigman/Russell) 6.19
04. You Go To My Head (Gillespie/Coots) 4.10
05. All Of Me (Marks/Simons) 4.07
06. The Way You Look Tonight (Fields/Kern) 3.51
07. Good Morning Heartache (Fisher/Drake/Higginbotham) 4.57
08. What A Little Moonlight Can Do (Woods) 4.10
09. These Foolish Things (Maschwitz/Strachey) 4.14
10. Strange Fruit (Allan) 4.55
11. I’ll Be Seeing You (Kahal/Fain) 6.10
12. Last Song (For Lester) (Wilson/Cowherd/Casey/Marshall/Wydler) 5.51

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