Monday, May 29, 2017
May 22, 2017, Issue
Pick of the Issue this week is Fred Kaplan’s “Kind of New,” a profile of jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. Reading it, I was astounded to learn that Salvant considers herself “not a natural performer.” For me, one of her most compelling qualities is her naturalness. I’m a huge fan of her singing, particularly her renditions of American Songbook classics like Richard Rodgers’ “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” and Henry Warren’s “I Only Have Eyes For You” (see my “Cécile McLorin Salvant: The Sound of Surprise,” March 10, 2013). In Kaplan’s piece, Salvant says of her brilliant accompanist, Aaron Diehl, “It was exciting to see somebody play Fats Waller with a fresh take yet very much in the spirit of the music. I’d been trying to do this for years—take something old and make it yours but still authentic—and here was someone who’d figured it out.” Take something old and make it yours but still authentic. That’s what Salvant does, too. Kaplan’s “Kind of New” is an arresting portrait of a truly original jazz artist. I devoured it.