June 13, 2024


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CD review: Cecile McLorin Salvant – Ghost Song 2022: Video, CD cover

Ghost Song features a diverse mix of seven originals and five interpretations on the themes of ghosts, nostalgia, and yearning. Salvant says, “It’s unlike anything I’ve done before—it’s getting closer to reflecting my personality as an eclectic curator. I’m embracing my weirdness!”

Ghost Song opens and ends with a sean-nós (traditional Irish unaccompanied vocal style) performance by Salvant, recorded in a church. On track one, she transitions into Kate Bush’s 1978 classic “Wuthering Heights.” Salvant says of the song, “Wuthering Heights is a book that really struck me to my core as I was making this album, during the pandemic. And the best interpretation of the novel is Kate Bush’s song.”

She continues, “It’s the most classic ghost story. I decided I wanted to do an album called Ghost Song, and I knew that one had to be on it. Then I had the idea to mix it in with the sean-nós ‘Cúirt Bhaile Nua,’ which binds it to the traditional ‘Unquiet Grave,’ the last track on the album. The ghost is not haunting me; now I am haunting the ghost. They parallel each other so well and they’re such different time periods. I wanted the album to be a circle, with the sean-nós reference at the beginning and at the end. So it is the first track but it’s also the last track and it’s also the middle track, which is how
I listen to music, walking around my neighborhood, on a plane, travelling somewhere, putting stuff on repeat.”

“All the songs on the album kind of mirror each other. I tried to create this strange symmetry. So as you go in from both ends, the songs are sort of matched together,” Salvant says. “‘I Lost my Mind’ is the center of the Russian doll. I wrote that in the middle of the pandemic. There were nights when I wanted to just scream. It was this deeper part of me saying, ‘It’s OK if this sounds completely crazy, OK to just go with the completely crazy thing and not worry if people think you have lost your mind for doing it.’

“The bands also mirror each other from top to bottom. In terms of the instrumentation, everything,” Salvant explains. “That’s why the songs are there in that relationship: they match each other, they’re like fraternal twins, or one is the evil twin of the other. I, as the living, am visited by the ghost, and then I go visit the ghost in turn. I am haunting the ghost and annoying the ghost, which is saying, ‘Get out of here and go live.’”

1. Wuthering Heights (2:44)
2. Optimistic Voices / No Love Dying (7:24)
3. Ghost Song (3:23)
4. Obligation (1:33)
5. Until (6:32)
6. I Lost My Mind (3:41)
7. Moon Song (3:05)
8. Trail Mix (2:24)
9. The World Is Mean (4:48)
10. Dead Poplar (2:36)
11. Thunderclouds (3:37)
12. Unquiet Grave (4:21)

Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocals, piano
Paul Sikivie, electric bass, synthesizer
Sullivan Fortner, piano, Fender Rhodes
Alexa Tarantino, flute
James Chirillo, banjo
Keita Ogawa, percussion
Burniss Travis, bass
Paul Sikivie, bass
Kyle Poole, drums
Marvin Sewell, guitars
James Chirillo, banjo
Aaron Diehl, pipe organ, piano
Daniel Swenberg, lute and theorbo
Violette, vocals
Iris McLorin Picot, vocals
Brooklyn Youth Chorus

Cécile McLorin Salvant: Ghost Song (Nonesuch) - JazzTimes

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