Cassandra Wilson – Belly Of The Sun – Blue Note /Pure Pleasure PPAN BST35072 180g audiophile (2-LPs) 60:09 ****:
(Marvin Sewell – acoustic guitars, Kevin Breit – slide resonator guitar/mandolin/electric guitar/vocals/12-string banjo/E-bow guitar/bizouki, Mark Peterson – acoustic bass/guitars/fretless electric bass, Cyro Baptista – percussion/vocals, Jeffrey Haynes – percussion/plastic tub, Xavyon Jamison – drums, Children of M.S. 44 (NYC) – vocals, Richard Johnston – guitar/vocals, Rhonda Richmond – vocals/piano, Cassandra Wilson – sardo/guitar, Patrice Moncell /Jewell Bass/Henry Rhodes/Vasti Jackson – vocals), Olu Dara – trumpet)
The back story of this album is important to understanding the music. The year is 2002 and the intent was to make a blues-based record and that led the search for a proper locale. Wilson ended up at an old train station in the Mississippi Delta in Clarksdale. Due to a wedding the band moved from the train station to a boxcar to do some recordings as well. Three more songs were recorded in studio—one with India Arie. Some of the songs are originals while the covers are from well-known artists like James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson, The Band and Antonio Carlos Jobim. It originally went to No. 2 on the Billboard Jazz charts in 2002.
As always, listening to discs from Pure Pleasure is…a pure pleasure! The sound is remarkably noise-free although this sound is a bit dry without a great deal of extreme top end. I would suppose that this had to do with the original mix and recording, but I don’t have it to compare. Cassandra’s rich voice is as distinctive as always. Some of the tracks are more impressive (musically) than others though none are losers. I doubted if Wilson could transform “Waters of March” into a non-Bossa Nova genre and make it her own, but I have to say, it was successful. Other tracks offer a combination of blues, soul and rock in their unique interpretations. “Darkness on the Delta” is a loosely swingin’ piano number that caught my attention immediately. “Drunk as Cooter Brown” is another standout upbeat tune with a gentle Caribbean vibe. Much of Wilson’s jazz style is not unlike Patricia Barber with less of the sung poetry that Barber often employs. There is a good mixture of different styles that help keep the listener interested and involved. Audiophiles will probably rush out and get this record, but the good news is the music is good too!
TrackList: The Weight; Justice; Darkness On The Delta; Waters of March; You Gotta Move; Only A Dream In Rio; Just Another Parade; Wichita Lineman; Shelter From The Storm; Drunk As Cooter Brown; Show me A Love; Road So Clear; Hot Tamales.