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Lizz WRIGHT – Salt 2002

Posted in JAZZ, Lizz WRIGHT on November 23, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Lizz WRIGHT – Salt 2002


Vocalist Lizz Wright delivers jazz that harks back to such luminaries as Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln on her debut Verve release, Salt. Still in her early twenties, Wright has a warm, dusky voice reminiscent of Cassandra Wilson and similarly to Wilson seems interested in tackling an eclectic mix of jazz standards, traditional folk, and R&B. Early on, a folky afterglow-Latin version of “Afro Blue” takes center stage followed by the gorgeous “Soon as I Get Home,” which betters the version from The Wiz. Wright fairs equally well as a songwriter with about half the album filled with her soaring, bluesy ballads. There is a melancholy yet positive ’70s vibe that eminates from songs like “Fire,” which resonates lyrically as well as melodically much like the personal/sociopolitical writing of another of Wright’s obvious inspirations, Terry Callier. Perhaps a little too low-key to register very high on the pop radio scale, but invested with enough sanguine emotionality and chops to make Salt easily recommended to fans of the neo-soul movement.
By Matt Collar.
Throughout its existence, Verve has particularly excelled in recording most of the fiercest chanteuses on the planet. Billie, Ella, Sarah, Dinah, Nina, Betty, Abbey, Shirley, Dee Dee, Cassandra, Diana – so off-the-iconoclastic-genius-meter that we refer to them on a strictly first-name basis. These are the true chanteuses; the rare ones who could sing anything (jazz to blues to pop) and who owned everything they sang.

It’s 2003 and fierce young chanteuses are hard to find. Fittingly, Verve has signed 23-year-old Lizz Wright. The most promising of a very short list, this Georgia native has been singing since childhood. A minister’s daughter, Ms. Wright naturally started out singing gospel in church. By the end of high school, she was heavily into ’70s black pop and drum ‘n bass. For the last three years, the artist has been polishing her star in Atlanta’s vibrant neo-soul/jazz underground scene.

Ms. Wright’s debut album, Salt produced by Tommy LiPuma, Brian Blade, and Jon Cowherd. Ain’t no half-stepping here: The backing musicians including Blade, Danilo Perez, and Chris Potter are Gen-X all-stars; the repertoire, an eclectic blend of jazz/pop standards, five Lizz Wright originals, one song written for her by Blade, and one Broadway showstopper. Salt reveals Ms. Wright to be uniquely blessed with a mellifluous, full-bodied contralto, emotionally-nuanced phrasing and an intuitive ability to swing.

Strong enough to transform Flora Purim’s high-stepping “Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly” into a sly ‘n slinky, neo-soul groove. Fearless enough to remodel both Stephanie Mills’ immortal rendition of The Wiz’s “Soon as I Get Home” and the late Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue.” Open enough to flow from jazzy Latin-soul slo-drags (“Goodbye”, “The End of the Line”) to AC-friendly folk-rock (“Lead The Way”, “Silence”). Genius enough to work her self-penned title song into a dope R&B/blues homage to Donny Hathaway.

Better start getting used to calling her just “Lizz”.
Jon Cowherd- Piano, Keyboards
Kenny Banks- Piano, Keyboards, Organ (1-2, 5, 9, 10)
Sam Yahel- Organ  (1)
Danilo Perez- Piano  (3)
John Hart- Guitar, Acoustic Guitar  (1-11)
Adam Rogers- Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Slide Guitar  (12)
Chris Potter- Soprano Saxophone  (7)
Doug Weiss- Bass  (1-11)
Terreon Gully- Drums  (2, 3)
Brian Blade- Drums, Acoustic Guitar
Jeff Haynes- Percussion  (1, 3-9, 11)
01. Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly 5:07
02. Salt 3:25
03. Afro Blue 5:51
04. Soon As I Get Home 4:26
05. Walk With Me, Lord 4:06
06. Eternity 3:35
07. Goodbye 3:57
08. Vocalise / End Of The Line 4:33
09. Fire 4:15
10. Blue Rose 4:06
11. Lead The Way 4:23
12. Silence 2:42

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