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Born to a French mother and a Haitian father in Miami, Florida, Cécile McLorin Salvant was singing and playing classical piano before she reached the age of 10. A move to France in 2007 saw her study improvisation and vocal repertoire under respected reedist Jean-François Bonnel. Success followed the recording of her debut album, Cécile, in 2009, winning the the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition.
Bob Dylan has spent recent years demonstrating the Great American Songbook's greatness – however, he's hardly the only one re-animating it for a new era. Cécile McLorin Salvant, regularly and rightly, is considered one of the greatest jazz singers of her generation, but that label sells her short.
The stage show is still where it’s possible to take the full measure of a performer, whether at a D.I.Y. party or an arena. Here, from the jazz and pop critics at The New York Times, are hundreds of 2015 concert experiences boiled down to 40
"There’s quiet and stillness and an air of reverence in the room, no matter who’s onstage—or so there had been at the dozens of shows I’ve attended at the Vanguard until this fall, when I saw Cécile McLorin Salvant."
The usual setup of Cecile McLorin Salvant and Aaron Diehl’s working trio, with bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Lawrence Leathers, was for this project expanded to an octet
Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk Competition, Cecile McLorin Salvant performs her interpretations of the standards and shares some original songs, too.
Rising vocal sensation Cécile McLorin Salvant is not the first young Grammy Award-winner to warmly thank her parents for their early and unwavering musical support. But she may well be one of the first to suggest, with a broad smile, that a certain degree of fear may also have been also a factor.
The elegant swoops from high to low are pure Ella Fitzgerald. The undercurrent of rage and sorrow recalls Billie Holiday. Her low notes channel the raw blues moan of Bessie Smith. And Sarah Vaughan's sassy spirit haunts her high notes.
While most vocalists make the mistake of either strictly adhering to the American Songbook or flailing away in improvisations, Cecile McLorin Salvant showed that it is possible to embrace both worlds of tradition and art as she deftly demonstrated at UCSB Campbell Hall Wednesday night.
How the hell could I have missed Cecile McLorin Salvant? It's not as if she's been toiling in obscurity. She won the Thelonious Monk award in 2010, the Downbeat Critics' Prize for best jazz album (WomanChild) in 2014, and a Grammy for best jazz vocal album (For One to Love) just this year. She's been singing with her trio at the Village Vanguard this past week, and every set has been sold out or nearly so.
Only a few years into her career, the singer has absorbed the music’s history and made it her own. "...it was clear right away that the hype was justified. She sang with perfect intonation, elastic rhythm, an operatic range from thick lows to silky highs."
This September, McLorin Salvant released For One to Love, and, as much as the new album continues with the tradition of the jazz and pop standards she has become known for, the now 2016 Grammy-nominated For One to Love is different. It’s an effort of, well, love.
Ever since she stunned judges and took first place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010, the 27-year-old has established a legacy through an extraordinary command of jazz mythology augmented with her own eclectic tastes and surprising interpretations. Revue talked with Cecile McLorin Salvant about where her art is headed next and the inspiration and motivations that are driving her.
“She makes the song her world and then uses her well-developed instrument to let others feel genuine emotions from that world, reveal the lessons from that world. And she has a marvelous and confident sense of taste.”
“I see them as little passageways or little remarks on what just happened,” she says. “Most of the songs I wrote were reactions to the standards on the album.”
Cécile McLorin Salvant, perhaps the brightest star among jazz singers under 40, and whose retro glasses make her look like a clerk at a hipster vinyl shop, has always had old-school tastes.
Audiences familiar with Cécile McLorin Salvant’s work already know to expect a unique performance, with one of the artist’s trademark moves being a tendency to switch up her set list as the mood strikes.
“...the crowd goes wild. They loved her and you will too. If you zone her out (not easy to do) and pay attention to the trio, you’ll feel the same about them too.”
“It seems safe to posit that Cécile McLorin Salvant is not only the most successful female jazz singer to emerge since the turn of the millennium but also the most dynamically skilled…” — JazzTimes
"The irreproachably hip, fiendishly virtuosic Cécile McLorin Salvant continues her one-woman revitalization of the once-grand vocal-jazz tradition with another fine showcase for her savvy and adventurous approach to both song selection and interpretation.” —Magnet Magazine
Vocal jazz is as popular as ever, and as critically underrated as ever -- no surprise, given that the majority of its practitioners are women. With her Friday afternoon set, Cécile McLorin-Salvant showed once again how foolish that divide is with a truly exceptional rendition of Duke Ellington’s "Sophisticated Lady"
Salvant is up against some stiff competition: Denise Donatelli’s Find A Heart, Lorraine Feather’s Flirting With Disaster, Jamison Ross’ Jamison, and Karrin Allyson’s Many A New Day. But then the vocal album category is usually the biggest jazz deal, year after year, and the most recognized outside the genre — next to best jazz instrumental.
Jazz singer/songwriter Cecile McLorin Salvant is an artist that is on the rise! At 28, Salvant is truly making her name for herself in the music industry. She is an artist that reminds people why good music is still alive.
... this year's win by 26-year-old jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, who lost out in the jazz vocal category in her first nomination in 2014 but came back to earn honors this year for her lauded album "For One to Love." Salvant beat out albums by Lorraine Feather, Karrin Allyson, Denise Donatelli and Jamison Ross.
'There's nothing ordinary about Cecile McLoren Salvant. At 27 she's made her way to the frontline of jazz by not following the usual pathway... Dreams and Daggers will offer you a high level of reward and you'll want to add the name Cecile McLoren Salvant to your future watch-list.'
In an age when singing the blues has been so thoroughly subsumed and reconfigured within other American pop-music traditions, when a main stem has become an offshoot branch, how is a self-aware jazz vocalist supposed to sell out emotionally — and expect to sell it to a wide audience?
I did everything I could to not bring in any of the technical things I got from classical into jazz, and I did everything to really base it on my speaking voice and to just not try to make it sound pretty.
There are still innovative artist-created music videos, but in the modern age, all the musician can really control is the song — what’s done with it once it’s in the world is anyone’s guess. Here are critics’ picks of the best music videos of 2015
"I was fascinated with the idea of a dream- like a dream that you have at night while you’re sleeping, and the whole idea of sleeping into another world. And how that’s still linked to your waking life."
At just 28, jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant has already been lauded by the music industry, including its figurehead Wynton Marsalis, who said that a singer of her caliber only comes by “once in a generation or two.”
This fantastic double bill testifies to the enduring power and malleability of mainstream jazz tradition, where dazzling facility, individual voice, and casual erudition can bring new vitality to decades-old approaches.
"Cécile McLorin Salvant, who recently turned 28, can do it all: she sings standard ballads, upbeat bop and pop, feisty anthems, earthy blues; before turning exclusively to jazz, she also studied Baroque and classical singing..."
Recording live at the Village Vanguard has become a rite of passage for performers on their way up. A program ranging from '20s black vaudeville to feminist-themed originals shows off everything this talented singer can do, which is plenty. (Mack Avenue)
Cécile McLorin Salvant, "She’s a storyteller, mining their lyrics for wit and drama that other singers, even great ones, glide by.” — "It’s the best jazz vocal album in a decade, maybe longer. Oh, and she’s 28 years old.” — Slate
Cécile McLorin Salvant has been called "the finest jazz singer to emerge in the last decade.” "Her blues are blue. Her swings swing," Kaplan says. "She has vast, almost operatic range.” He also says that Salvant digs into a lyric like an actress.
When we polled our music writers for their favorite albums last year, there was little crossover — not surprising when you consider that one critic loves jazz, another specializes in hip-hop, another favors country and yet another can’t get enough post-punk rock. This year, however, those same seven writers submitted lists with a bit more in common.