Thursday, September 28

Cecile McLorin Salvant – Usher Hall, Edinburgh

That was – Emotional!

What a voice.

The power and attack of Salvant’s vocal is what strikes you the most. Controlled and yet, something else, hard to explain, at first soaring, vast balloon-like and then at other times like a bird; small, fragile, vulnerable.

Miami-born, Salvant at the age of 33 is right at the top of her game, full of the confidence that a library of prestigious awards and accolades brings, and jazz flair that has made her a sell-out draw around the world. Her current album Melusine draws on her Haitian and French heritage, and sung partly in French, whilst her previous highly acclaimed 2022 album Ghost Song features interpretations of tracks by Kate Bush and Sting.

In a recent interview with The List, she promised that this concert would be, ‘crazy and spontaneous’ , and it certainly lives up to that billing. Featuring close collaborators, including pianist Sullivan Fortner she draws freely from her seven albums to date.

‘Part Gregory Porter, part wizard of Oz’, she laughs before launching into a sublime version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which is greeted with whoops and cheers by the almost full house. Her choice of a trio of Barbra Streisand classics including from her favourite film Yentl, and Don’t Rain on my Parade are certainly crowd pleasers.

Talking to The Guardian newspaper in 2020 Salvant explained her eclectic approach to her creative process, “I’m interested in bringing things from disparate sources, time periods and techniques, I love to go into different sounds and different textures with just my voice alone.” She also makes visual art – colourful figurative works – and approaches her music in a similar vein. “I want my music and my art to feel like you’re opening someone’s diary – there’s an old ticket stub for something, a quote, an idea and frustration and a secret.”

Salvant signs off her 90-minute set with one of her own compositions, Doudou, a song in French, which play on a pun, Doudou being the pet name for the singers’ lover but also being mighty close to Dodo, suggesting that he might soon be extinct!

It would have been nice to hear more back story and a bit more banter and context in the song introductions from this lovely lady. The ninety minutes were up and gone far too quickly!

Running time – 1 Hr 30mins

Reviewer: Greg Holstead

Reviewed: 7th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.