TX:Presented by Goldenvoice. Reviewed May 22, 1996. The further Cassandra Wilson removes herself from the jazz idiom, the closer she gets to the intentions and innovations of her pioneering forefathers such as Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk: Take the music of your generation and its predecessors, turn it on its side and develop a thoroughly original interpretation. This is what the future needs. In developing a repertoire of originals, pre-WWII blues and country, the occasional torch song, and folky numbers from contemporary icons, Wilson has emerged as a bona fide original in a field of singers far too bent on re-creating well-trod styles.
Guitarist Brandon Ross’ arrangements, which were executed Wednesday with precision and improvisational electricity, provide soulful hues of blue and black, shades distinctly removed from earth tones that shaped the progeny of her material.
It’s all performed with a cold sobriety that contrasts and embellishes Wilson’s vocal huskiness.
The ensemble of two guitars, drums, percussion and Lonnie Plaxico’s omnipresent bass favors a gruff masculinity in its presentation, an undercurrent Wilson rides with ease, particularly on U2’s “Love Is Blindness” and her own “Redbone.”
Most importantly, she does what all the fine songstresses have done — she makes each lyric her own. In the second song of the night, a spectacularly slow rendition of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” her presentation raised goose bumps.
Wilson has grown from the clubs to small halls with personality intact. With the niche plainly carved, it’s up to her to make the next step as adventurous a leap as her two Blue Note albums –“Blue Light ‘Til Dawn” and “New Moon Daughter”– were over her previous JMT efforts.