Here’s something I would like to hear: Cassandra Wilson singing “SJI.” Apparently it happened last month in NYC, at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, where she filled in for Abbey Lincoln (whose ex-husband Max Roach recently passed away, and had to cancel). Ben Ratliff writes:
Onstage with her were the pianist Jonathan Baptiste and the bassist Michael Bowie, from Ms. Lincoln’s band, and the drummer Marcus Gilmore, as well as the saxophonist Evan Schwam, from Chico Hamilton’s group. They played the most standard of standards: “St. James Infirmary”; “Caravan”; Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time”; Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk,” with Ms. Lincoln’s lyrics.
Scatting and bebop singing aren’t really her thing, but “St. James Infirmary” was. It fit her slow-drag voice, and at crawling tempo, the band members showed what they had: Mr. Bowie soloing in almost vocal-like phrases with glottal stops; Mr. Schwam playing throaty, crying choruses. And with small improvisations — in her line “He can search, he can search, he can search this whole wide world over,” she put both a hesitation and a melodic glide — Ms. Wilson made it work.