by Marc Myers
(Marc Myers is a New York journalist and historian)
CD discovery of the week. Take a listen to Saltman Knowles' new album, Return of the Composer. I wasn't familiar with this Washington, D.C. group—formed by bassist Mark Saltman and pianist William Knowles. And as readers know, I don't tend to go for too many current releases, mainly because so much sounds the same today, and passion and emotion seem to be in short supply.
But this CD is different. There's a special depth and poetry here, especially with the penetrating voice and vocalese of Lori Williams Chisholm [pictured]. Think Jean Carne, Flora Purim and Miriam Makeba. Chisholm's wordless vocals manage to be carefree and urgent. Throughout the album, Chisholm uses her voice like a clarinet and flute, surfing the tricky melodies written by Saltman and Knowles, delivering a rich, soulful energy.
There's a fusion feel to this album, but with samba overtones, which is probably why I like it so much. And the other musicians—Alvin Trask (trumpet), Rob Landham (alto sax) and Jimmy Junebug Jackson (drums)—are solid. Every note has meaning.
I actually came upon the album by accident and fell in love with it—and Chisholm's voice—immediately. Listen to tracks here and learn more about Chisholm here. I see that Return of the Composer is now available as a download at iTunes.