Cécile McLorin Salvant is an intriguing jazz singer with a style of her own. Her excellent debut, WomanChild, showcases her vocal range, technical chops and a rare gift for reinterpretation.
Her rendition of “You Bring Out the Savage in Me,” a controversial tune from Valaida Snow, is shocking yet humorous. Her phrasing is meticulous, particularly her enunciation in the following couplet: “My blood boils with the tropic heat / And the rhythm of my heart has a tom-tom beat.” Salvant’s take on “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” a Billie Holiday’s joint, is quite something else. She pushes her vocals, plays with her tone and swings like hell with the fantastic rhythm section led by the pianist Aaron Diehl. “John Henry” is another outstanding cover that displays her powerful voice and exquisite taste in singing standards.
In addition to the rare repertoire from jazz history, WomanChild demonstrates Salvant’s own songwriting through the title track, “Le Front Cache Sur Tes Genoux” and the album-closer “Deep Dark Blue.” With her immense talent, Salvant is going to soar. This is just the beginning of a promising career.