‘Coming Forth By Day’
Cassandra Wilson (Legacy)
4 stars out of 5
The tributes keep coming for the late, great jazz singer Billie Holiday. This week marks the 100th birthday of the acclaimed vocalist, who fell victim to drug abuse and passed away at age 44. Last week, there was a terrific Holiday tribute album courtesy of José James and Lady Day’s legacy was celebrated with career-spanner “The Centennial Collection.”
Contemporary jazz icon Cassandra Wilson dips her foot into the Holiday waters with “Coming Forth By Day.” It’s a fantastic 12-track release featuring 11 tunes from Billie’s songbook and set-closing original “Last Song (For Lester),” which Wilson envisioned as a heartbreaking final message from Holiday to her lover Lester Young.
“(The album) is an homage dedicated to the beauty, power, and genius of Billie Holiday,” Wilson says. “A collection of musical spells, prescriptions for navigating the dubious myths surrounding her life and times, this record is a vehicle for the reemergence of Billie’s songbook in the 21st century.”
Collaborating with the likes of Van Dyke Parks, T Bone Burnett and The Bad Seeds, Wilson puts her stamp on each and every tune. Among the highlights here are “Billie’s Blues,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Strange Fruit” and the aforementioned “Last Song (For Lester).” Highly recommended. (Jeffrey Sisk)