I waited with curiosity and excitement for the Cécile Mclorin Salvant concert, which took place at İşSanat on the evening of November 7th. Since her last two albums, which were released one after the other, had very different concepts, I was not sure what kind of repertoire I would encounter.
From the moment I discovered the album “Woman Child” in 2013, I was fascinated by it; It was also the first time I would listen to her live, whose unique identity, striking expression and artistic freedom inspired me.
Cécile McLorin Salvant is a young and productive vocal artist and composer who made a name for herself after winning the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition in 2010 and receiving a MacArthur Fellowship and three consecutive Grammy awards. Salvant is also known for her unconventional style, combining cultural, periodic and political elements in her music.
While she has not yet recovered from the influence of her 2023 album “Mélusine”, her interdisciplinary musical “Ogresse”, which she composed, sang and illustrated the animations, has already started to receive praise. Salvant’s rapidly growing fame and versatile music can bring together different audiences; therefore, it is not surprising that concert tickets were sold out weeks in advance…
Salvant attracted the audience with his characteristic clothes, stance, tone of voice and extraordinary interpretation from the first moment she appeared on stage; she managed to fit two songs, which she sang one after the other, sometimes in a dramatic and sometimes minimalist way, into a single story with a masterful narration.
It would be beneficial not to make the mistake of labeling Salvant in a mold without looking at it from a contemporary art perspective, interdisciplinary and holistically.
It is nourished from a personal place that is nourished by these elements, rather than being strictly tied to the jazz tradition or an understanding in which aesthetics are prioritized in a static manner. She layers it with her song selections, arrangements and interpretation; she cuts apart very distant periods, genres, different languages, cultures and understandings according to her own fiction and puts them into a new form. I think this is what affects the listener emotionally…
Salvant brings emotional depth to the fore with her bold improvisational phrasing, which is a characteristic of the jazz tradition, and her virtuosity in nimble transitions between baroque, musical and jazz schools; While singing a blues she has translated into Haitian, or a lamento about the pain of love, she can suddenly switch to a playful French chanson. The most impressive feature for me is her storytelling… For example, with the rendition of “Step Sisters” from the musical Cinderalla, the listener suddenly finds himself on the other side of the fence and the piece turns into a reverse Uno and turns into the feminist manifesto of the stepsisters.
When she finished her performance, which included original compositions and timeless jazz standards such as “I’m all Smiles”, with the French cabaret song Doudou, which she enlivened with a Latin groove; I think no one lost track of time.
Fortner, whom I have had the chance to hear live on stage many times since the 2010s, is a well-equipped pianist who constantly renews himself. Salvant and Fortner’s strong chemistry, which they strengthened over time, was the backbone of this performance. Nakamura and Harris, who are generally in the background; Towards the end of the concert, they got a little excited and won our hearts with their performance of Kurt Weill’s “The World Is Mean”. Even though it didn’t give me goosebumps as much as “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, this was the song that stayed in my mind the most, as I was curious about getting to know all the musicians on stage.