Cécile McLorin Salvant performs “Ghost Song” at the Blue Note Jazz Club

VSÉcile McLorin Salvant, 32, said she wanted her music to sound like the opening of a diary. When I saw her perform at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, she knew where the bodies were buried. And maybe it wasn’t just his diary. It could have been ours too. I thought of nights out with Betty Carter or Abbey Lincoln, where last-minute sets felt like singing for all the weirdos in the room, and I was one of them.

Because Salvant is a jazz singer, you can hear the influence of Carter, and Sarah Vaughan, in his phrasing, his intonation, the way he floats around a lyric. Some of its core products are covers. When she growls and sings “Sam Jones’ Blues” or “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate,” you’re transported from the 2020s to the 1920s and back again. The songs are still alive – fruitful, witty, revengeful, celebratory – and somehow Bessie Smith is justified. Salvant loves to sink his teeth into Brecht and Weill, songs such as “The World Is Mean”, from The Threepenny Opera: “Of course I’m telling you the truth / The world is wicked and the man rude.” She does not coat it.

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