Cassandra Wilson was the highly anticipated ending act to the 2013 Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Accompanied by a musically diverse band, Wilson gave a gloriously entertaining and exploratory performance. The set provided evidence as to why Wilson was once crowned ‘America’s Best Singer’ by TIME magazine and why she has developed a loving following across all corners of the globe.
Her instrument shone with its trademark rich, deep tone.
Wilson turned the imposing Hamer Hall stage into her personal playground, literally kicking off her heels, letting her hair down and dancing, swaying, emoting. Her instrument shone with its trademark rich, deep tone. With a gentle clarity of both enunciation and emotion, familiar lyrics were rendered newly relevant. The set had distinct European and gypsy elements with the brilliant harmonica playing of Gregoire Maret featuring heavily and providing an energetic counterpart to Wilson’s earthy voice. Wilson elegantly revealed the light and shade of her crowning instrument throughout the performance. Unexpected highlights included a novel cover of the Monkees’ ‘Last Train to Clarkesville’ and a beautifully sensitive treatment of U2’s ‘Love is Blindness’, delivered with depth and poignancy.
Drummer Mino Cinelu added a masterful Latin influence to the concert. His exciting rhythms and embellishments rounded out the already global sound-scape. Wilson revelled in her onstage interactions with the entire band, most of whom she had introduced as her ‘musical husbands’. The electric violin and mandolin of Charlie Burnham was at times mesmerising, particularly his solo in ‘No More Blues’.
Wilson and her talented band were enthusiastically compelled back to the stage for an encore where she delivered a delightfully introspective performance of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ to the now rapturous audience.
Check out the full gallery here.