Not unlike The Haunted Pencil Getting Down with the Kids by grooving to avant-garde songstresses like Dames Nellie Melba and Vera Lynn (cf. Staving off old age), I’ve been inspired by the work of two rather younger women vocalists.
Brought up in Virginia, Judi Jackson moved to New York, building on the style of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone to create her own voice. Since 2017 she has been based in London.
Here’s Still, live at Ronnie’s:
Over the moon, 2018:
and at the London Jazz Festival in 2020:
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By way of contrast, the innovative Cleo Sol (Cleopatra Zvezdana Nikolic! I wish I was called that) is quite elusive, doing few live gigs. A denizen of Ladbroke Grove, her Serbian-Spanish mother and Jamaican father are both musicians. She has released two studio albums, Rose in the Dark (2020) (playlist):
and Mother (2021) (playlist):
In wiki’s choice phrase, “she is rumoured to be a member of” (I like that) Sault, an even more elusive “avant-soul” (WTF) collective (reviews e.g. here and here). Since 2019 they have released six studio albums, dazzling sound collages that include Untitled (Black is, 2020):
and Nine (2021):
Some of this feels more alien to me than Chinese ritual, but it’s another glimpse of the kind of creativity on my doorstep that has largely eluded me (cf. New British jazz), and it makes me very happy.
You may note that my amazing playlist of songs is dominated by women vocalists—quite right too.