Cassandra Wilson’s 2015 album tribute to Billie Holiday, Coming Forth By Day, will come to life at SF Jazz in San Francisco this week. Wilson will play at the venue’s Milner Auditorium from Thursday (19) in a four-night run until 22 May that’s almost sold out.
The Grammy-winning vocalist released the project to coincide with the centennial of Holiday’s birth last year, winning widespread plaudits. “Countless singers have been inspired by Lady Day,” said NPR, “but only Cassandra Wilson could have delivered such a fantastic tribute.”
“My mother wanted to instill in me the importance of being self-sufficient,” Wilson told the Mercury News. “That’s how far back my connection to Billie goes.”
Wilson’s band for the dates includes guitarist Brandon Ross and violinist Charlie Burnham, with whom she’s worked since her Blue Note breakthrough album of 1993, Blue Light ‘Til Dawn. Pianist and keyboard player Jon Cowherd is also in the line-up.
“Cassandra likes to leave room for us to be creative,” Cowherd says. “Before we go on stage every night, we all talk a bit in her dressing room, not necessarily about music, and do a little toast. She’ll say, ‘OK you guys, surprise me.’ She likes getting that burst of creativity, for things to be different.”