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Cassandra Wilson : Loverly

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Loverly is being billed as Cassandra Wilson’s “return to jazz,” even if, following 2006’s Thunderbird, the T Bone Burnett-produced album on which Wilson more than flirted with electronic percussion and sampling, practically anything that adhered to standard instrumentation and relatively straightforward vocalizing would be a return to jazz.

Here she keeps things deliberately and smartly simple-the self-produced Loverly is as austere as Thunderbird was fussy. And with a setlist consisting entirely of standards, Wilson’s first such since 1988’s Blue Skies, it feels like a homecoming. Working with Marvin Sewell on guitars, Jason Moran on piano, longtime bassist Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Herlin Riley and Nigerian percussionist Lekan Babalola, with a small handful of guests, Loverly stands as one of Wilson’s coziest, loverly-est recordings. Which is not to say it isn’t daring-quite the opposite, it’s full of surprises.

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