I figured since I have been featuring some heavyweight jazz this week, I would stay in the same lane for our flashback. The year was 1989. I had moved out of my parent’s house and into my first apartment. It was Labor Day weekend and I had gone to the annual Chicago Jazz Festival and hungout for awhile. I also went to the Jazz Record Mart for my first time because they had a copy of Cassandra Wilson’s “Blue Skies.” I was already in love with this album after hearing it with a friend. I got home that evening, got a big glass of Kool-Aid (red, of course), turned out the lights, sat in my big chair, and was hypnotized by her mystical voice. From the first notes of “Shall We Dance“, she had me. Her mellow reading of this tune set the tone and covered the room in a blanket of romance. “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” always made me smile just because of the title and her superb handling of this song. Other gems included were “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was“, “I’m Old Fashioned“, “Sweet Lorraine“, and “My One and Only Love.” “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You” was added to the CD version of the album and her rendition of “Blue Skies” still plays in my head. I worked second shift at the time and every night, for a few months, Cassandra lulled me to sleep. She is backed by Mulgrew Miller on piano, Lonnie Plaxico on acoustic bass, and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums and they are impeccable.
In 2002, Verve Records released a compilation of her early recordings on the JMT Productions label entitled “Sing Standards” which includes several of the songs from the “Blue Skies album.” Over the years, Cassandra’s music has traveled down many long and winding roads, touching many genres along the way, but “Blue Skies” will always be my personal favorite. Enjoy your music.