Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Cassandra Wilson

There was an ongoing riff that Cassandra Wilson revisited during her first appearance at the Kennedy Center. It was blues-based, of course, but originating not from the bandstand. Instead, she riffed on various audience members as they continuously drifted in the Eisenhower Theater. “D.C. is one of my favorite cities,” Wilson claimed right before teasing the latecomers. “I’ll just talk for awhile as some of you late people come through. I understand.”

I’m quite sure that underneath Wilson’s cool veneer was steaming frustration, especially given her diva status. But in some ways, the late drifters seemed appropriate, considering Wilson’s repertoire. She refurbished a sublime mixture of gutbucket blues, twangy country and rueful R&B classics. If you closed your eyes, you could easily envisioned yourself in some sweltering, rowdy, over-packed Mississippi Delta juke-joint–shotgun house style with a rusting tin roof, dusty pinewood floors and all the illegal booze your body can consume–with incessant stragglers leisurely coming and going.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published