FOR ONE TO LOVE
Initially she breathes the words barely hard enough to frost a mirror. Each comes surrounded by a billowing space partially shaded by her wonderful trio, so you absorb their meaning gradually: “Love appeared just like a fog”. Fog is not only sung sensationally well by Cecile McLorin Salvant, it also proves she is one of the few jazz singers capable of writing lyrics and music to match her powers as a vocalist. When she does cover others’ songs – ranging from Growlin’ Dan to Wives and Lovers! – she performs them so playfully, surprisingly or dramatically as to completely remould them in her own image.
However high the aspirations, improvising is eternally a game of sorts, and Salvant constantly sounds like she is having the time of her life. While deploying perfect diction she chews on some words and takes flight on others, always impeccably and imaginatively supported by pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Lawrence Leathers. Her contralto range and absolute conviction carry echoes of Betty Carter, but ultimately her singularity surpasses comparison. Beautiful.