Cecile McLorin Salvant at University of Michigan

SEMJA Review

Mack Avenue recording artist Cecile McLorin Salvant performed at the Mendelssohn Theater with pianist Aaron Diehl on February 6. I have heard Salvant several times in Ann Arbor and Detroit, but this was a real tour de force. Her repertoire is wide-ranging from Bessie Smith’s “Black Mountain Blues,” Nancy Wilson’s “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Bob Dorough’s “Devil May Care” (with some impressionistic touches by Diehl in the lower register), standards like “Jeepers Creepers” taken at a rapid clip and showing off Diehl’s stride chops, and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” (dedicated to recently passed Lawrence Leathers), to an innovative version Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” (encore). She also did some songs of her own, like “Fog.”

Salvant’s rapport with Diehl was extraordinary — the two musical selves seemed to merge into one. Diehl had one solo piece, an etude by Philip Glass. Like Salvant, Diehl is a Mack Avenue recording artist, so expect to see them again at the Detroit Jazz Festival.