Cécile McLorin Salvant's album Mélusine is a mix of originals and interpretations of songs dating as far back as the 12th century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. They tell the folk tale of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday after a childhood curse by her mother. She has shared a new live performance video of the album track "Doudou," which you can watch here. "Anyone who thinks they already know the full extent of Cécile McLorin Salvant's artistry should listen to Mélusine without further delay," exclaims Jazzwise. "It's a remarkable recording in several respects. Beautifully recorded, Salvant continues to confound and delight at every turn."
Cécile McLorin Salvant’s new album, Mélusine, is out now on Nonesuch is available here. The album features a mix of five originals and interpretations of nine songs, dating as far back as the twelfth century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. A new live performance video of the album track “Doudou” is also out today and may be seen here:
"Anyone who thinks they already know the full extent of Cécile McLorin Salvant's artistry should listen to Mélusine without further delay," exclaims Jazzwise. "It's a remarkable recording in several respects. Beautifully recorded, Salvant continues to confound and delight at every turn."
“Mélusine retains the intellectual curiosity of Salvant’s jittery, questing catalogue,” says Mojo. “As with 2022’s Ghost Song, Salvant’s imaginative backdrops draw on jazz, blues, folk and vaudeville, double daring her audience to follow her next flight of fancy.”
Mélusine follows last year’s Grammy-nominated label debut, Ghost Song, which received tremendous critical praise, including spots on best albums of 2022 lists from the New York Times and NPR, among others. Salvant has North American tour dates into the summer, including performances at the Big Ears and SFJAZZ Festivals and at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. See below for all of the currently scheduled dates; for all the latest, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.
The new album was recorded to tape. Its songs tell the story of the European folkloric legend of Mélusine, written by Jean d’Arras in 1393. It tells of a man, Raymondin, who is overwhelmed with grief after accidentally killing his uncle in a boar hunting accident. Wandering in the forest, he encounters three women bathing. The most beautiful of them, Mélusine, sees him and demands justification for his indiscretion. She promises to make him a great lord if he marries her—on the condition that he never sees her on Saturdays.
He agrees, and they are happy until the weekend his brother visits, sharing rumors that his wife is unfaithful. He becomes angry and uses his sword to cut a hole in Mélusine’s iron door. She’s bathing in her marble tub, and he sees that below the waist, she has the body of a snake. When she realizes that he’s looking, she turns into a dragon and flies out the window, returning to visit her descendants on their deathbeds.
“I have a memory from my childhood of being in the dentist’s office, waiting to get my teeth cleaned, and hearing this wonderful music from the French Caribbean. I was too young to know what it was called, but it was like zouk. I wrote this five years ago, after Wynton [Marsalis] invited me to sing at the Marciac festival. So I had it around, with only a vague idea of the rhythm,” Salvant says.
“For this track I wanted to play with musicians with whom I shared a cultural heritage. Right away when I played it for Godwin [Louis, the multi-instrumentalist who plays saxophone and sings on Mélusine] he said, ‘I know what kind of song this is.’ He did a compas thing on it, and it just made me smile. All I had was something vague—a sound heard in a dentist office in Miami at age twelve—and he made it specific,” she continues.
“This is the song where she says, ‘Let’s get married but don’t mess with Saturdays.’ It’s classically a song I’d write—a sweet song about people who love each other, but there’s destruction in there too.”
Cécile McLorin Salvant, a 2020 MacArthur Fellow and three-time Grammy Award winner, is a singer and composer bringing historical perspective, a renewed sense of drama, and an enlightened musical understanding to both jazz standards and her own original compositions. Classically trained, steeped in jazz, blues, and folk, and drawing from musical theater and vaudeville, Salvant embraces a wide-ranging repertoire that broadens the possibilities for live performance.
Salvant’s performances range from spare duets for voice and piano to instrumental trios to orchestral ensembles. Her work Ogresse is an ambitious long-form musical fable based on oral fairy tales from the nineteenth century that explores the nature of freedom and desire in a racialized, patriarchal world; it was recently announced that she has partnered with French studio Miyu Productions and will co-direct a feature-length film version with Belgian animator Lia Bertels.
CECILE MCLORIN SALVANT ON TOUR
|Mar 24||Teatro Donizetti||Bergamo, ITALY|
|Mar 30||Koerner Hall||Toronto, ON|
|Apr 1||Big Ears Festival||Knoxville, TN|
|Apr 8||Savannah Music Festival||Savannah, GA|
|Apr 12||Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall||Princeton, NJ|
|Apr 14||Hill Auditorium||Ann Arbor, MI|
|Apr 29||Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center||Blacksburg, VA|
|May 5–7||Miner Auditorium, SFJAZZ Center||San Francisco, CA|
|May 19&20||Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center||New York, NY|
|Jun 7||Alter Schlachthof||Dresden, GERMANY|
|Jun 9||Blohm + Voss||Hamburg, GERMANY|
|Jun 12||Weimarhallen Park||Weimar, GERMANY|
|Jul 26||Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater||Chautauqua, NY|
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