Personnel: Cassandra Wilson (vocals, guitar, sardo); Kevin Breit (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, National steel guitar, slide resonator guitar, E-bow guitar, 12-string banjo, bizouki, mandolin, ominichord); Richard Johnson (vocals, guitar); Cyro Baptista (vocals, bass drum, percussion); India.Arie, Rhonda Richmond, Patrice Moncell, Jewell Bass, Henry Rhodes, Vasti Jackson (vocals); Olu Dara (trumpet); Boogaloo Ames (piano); Marvin Sewell (acoustic & electric guitars); Mark Peterson (acoustic & electric basses); Xavyon Jamison (drums); Jeffrey Haynes (steel pans, plastic tub, percussion); Children Of M.S. 44.
Recorded in Clarksdale, Mississippi and at Allaire Studios South, New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Michael Simanga.
BELLY OF THE SUN may be seen as the end of a trilogy wherein Cassandra Wilson redefines boomer rock/pop repertoire from a contemporary jazz singer's perspective. From its intro of sultry jazz bass and syncopated percussion, you'd never guess you were about to hear a version of the Band's '60s country-rock classic "The Weight." Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman," best known as a Glen Campbell country-pop hit, gets a relaxed, sensual interpretation here that helps make the case for Webb's acceptance into the canon of Great American Songbook composers. A delicate, jazzy cover of Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" sounds more like mid-'70s Joni than Zimmy.
There's a lot of Wilson's native Mississippi to be felt in BELLY OF THE SUN; as on the spare, slide-guitar-driven take on Mississippi Fred McDowell's country blues tune "You Gotta Move," or Robert Johnson's "Hot Tamales." And just when you least expect it, Wilson briefly turns into a traditional jazz singer to croon "Darkness on the Delta" over a romping, bluesy piano accompaniment. Never one to get stuck in a rut, Wilson throws in a bit of Braziliana with Jobim's classic "Waters of March," whose poetically dadaist lyrics suit the singer's mercurial spirit perfectly, capturing the free spirit at the heart of Wilson's work.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (6/6/02, p.80) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Wilson is the perfect jazz singer for people who don't particularly like jazz singing. She covers rock songs...but doesn't pretend to be a rocker, while the semi-acoustic arrangements have the airy sophistication of Joni Mitchell's HEJIRA..."
Entertainment Weekly (3/29/02, p.75) - "...Wilson's nobility, throaty voice, and jazz-folk mesh remain estimable..." - Rating: B-
Uncut (9/02, p.123) - 3.5 stars out of 4 - "...she...has a sharp ear for a suitable rock cover and a mellowness that draws in the more adventurous end of the Tracy Chapman market...exquisite...majestic...powerful..."
Down Beat (June 2002, pp.54-56) - 4 out of 5 stars - "...An ingenious intersection of art song, jazz, the bules and a good deal in between..."
Living Blues (7-8/02, p.61) - "...A noble experiment, there are some fine moments, and the more eclectic-minded Wilson fans will find a lot to enjoy..."
Mojo (Publisher) (6/02, p.106) - "...A triumphant return to the spirit and style of her great 1955 album NEW MOON DAUGHTER."
- Weight, The
- 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