NO DOUBT A lot of folks who first became enchanted with Cassandra Wilson's unusually warm and supple voice while listening to her "Blue Skies" album, a superb collection of pop standards released in 1988, will find her new release, "Jump World," disappointing. After all, instead of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Lerner and Loewe and Rodgers and Hammerstein contributing romantic gems, "Jump World" has a distinctly contemporary, funky, topical, even bitter edge to it.
It's also a far less consistent effort, marred by some portentous lyrics -- "We come from a place on the planet where crystals create subatomic sound," Wilson sings on the title track. Even so, Wilson's voice is still a marvel to hear over the band's slippery rhythms and alongside guest saxophonists Steve Coleman and Gary Thomas. Full of surprises, it dips and soars like Betty Carter's and, for all its sensuous grace, sometimes takes on an angry disposition, so that "Lies," for instance, is reminiscent of Joan Armatrading's dark balladry.
Moreover, "Lies," "Woman On the Edge," "Warm Spot" and "Rock This Calling" feature Wilson the lyricist at her poetic best, and if that's several notches below Wilson the singer at her best, it's still good enough to make "Jump World" well worth a listen.
CASSANDRA WILSON --
"Jump World" (JMT). Appearing Saturday at d.c. space.