Cecile McClorin Salvant / Aaron Diehl Trio
Yoshi’s Oakland, August 27, 2017
There are major milestone occasions in everyone’s lives; powerful events that stir our emotions and remain etched in our memories. As a music and theatre reviewer I’ve had an abundance of key moments. To that list I must add Cecile McClorin Salvant and the Aaron Diehl Trio who are forging an exciting, vibrant and technically flawless path in contemporary jazz.
For the second show in a three-stand sellout, McClorin came out blazing with a sassy version of Bob Dorough’s “Devil May Care”. McClorin’s song choice reflect a woman who’s supremely confidant and often has the upper hand in romance. Again and again, she chooses song’s that reflect strong female perspectives as evidenced in 1925’s Ida Cox hit “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues”. Playfully teasing with the lyric, McClorin loves to sing: “When my man starts kicking I let him find another home, I get full of good liquor, walk the streets all night, Go home and put my man out if he don’t act right”. Again, on Rodgers and Hart’s “Ev’rything I Got”, the Amazon woman is dangerous, but also a willing partner in love.
McClorin has a wicked sense of humor which she develops with her unique vocal style and facial gestures. She was clearly having a ball, laughing after the crowd sang her Happy Birthday. She dug into Big Bill Broonzy early racial discrimination tune “Black, Brown and White Blues”, introducing it by saying “you’ll know why”. Her humor is evident on Harry warren and Al Dubin’s “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me”, again another female viewpoint on romance.
You can’t ask for any better accompanist for McClorin’s variety of styles than pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Paul Sikivie. The two work off her changes in tempo and intonations in a call and response that defines a perfect symbiosis. A glorious example of their chemistry was the set closer, an epic rendition of “Something’s Coming (Bernstein / Sondheim) from West Side Story. Sikkivie starts it laying out the melodies major beat, joined by McClorin’s soft but playful lyric. Aaron joins in with his ragtime influences and the song takes flight. The trio was joined by stand-in percussionist Kyle Poole, another jazz wunderkind who reacted seamlessly with the band’s constant changes in genre, rhythm and harmonies.
Salvant and The Aaron Diehl Trio create a transcendent musical experience that will move you far beyond the last notes. At 27, Salvant is poised to re-write the jazz landscape like the scene changers before her; Fitzgerald, Vaughan, McCrae, O’Day and Simone. Pretty heady company indeed, but Salvant and her trio are certainly in that elevated terrain.