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

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Carmen Lundy: Code Noir (Afrasia)

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Carmen Lundy: Code Noir
Carmen Lundy: Code Noir

Musicians as diversely gifted as Carmen Lundy, who has excelled as a vocalist, composer, lyricist, arranger, guitarist and keyboardist for more than three decades, remain few and far between. There was Ray Charles, and there is Joni Mitchell, but very few others. And Lundy, like Mitchell, is also a superb painter, often crafting the artwork for her album covers, including the multihued self-portrait that adorns Code Noir. It’s an apt image, as Lundy again offers deeply personal perspectives—as a woman, as an African-American and simply as a keen-thinking adult—on the human condition. The title comes from a 17th-century law, passed by Louis XIV to legalize slavery in French colonies, including Louisiana, which provided slaves with both greater rights and harsher strictures.

The company, including pianist Patrice Rushen, guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Kendrick Scott, is top-drawer; the settings, spanning jazz, blues, soul, samba and pop, are diverse. All dozen tracks are Lundy originals. Each, as delivered in her distinctive voice—a remarkably liquid instrument, luxurious as cashmere yet sturdy as cast iron—is a fine-crafted playlet. She is a masterful weaver of dreams, the themes here extending from the romantic satisfaction of “I Got Your Number” and self-empowerment of “Live Out Loud” to the sharp social commentary of “Black and Blues” and its gentle counterpoint, “Whatever It Takes,” a hope-infused ode to unification.

Originally Published