Blue Note 509996 29752 2 3
“Silver Pony” is the latest in a long line of releases in the varied oeuvre of singer Cassandra Wilson. Getting a new Wilson disc made me feel a little like a kid on Christmas morning, but this wasn't exactly the pony I was expecting to find under the tree. Wilson is at her best when she takes rock and pop tunes and, along with her always innovative band mates, reworks them into atmospheric beauties. Her version of Neil Young's Harvest Moon from the Grammy-winning “New Moon Daughter” with Toronto guitar alchemist Kevin Breit, being a prime example. While “Silver Pony” has a few studio-recorded trademark Wilsonisms - like the funky Forty Days and Forty Nights and Watch the Sunrise, a duet with John Legend — what dominate the album are the live tracks. With many of the songs weighing in around the seven-minute mark and extended soloing from piano player Jonathan Batiste, drummer Herlin Riley and guitarist Marvin Sewell, there's a lot of hay to chew on. Wilson's voice is as deep and nuanced as ever and the interplay between the musicians is a lesson in developing ideas on the fly. Anyone who likes their tunes in nice, neat A-A-B-A packages should probably hitch their wagon to some other horse, but if you want to hear veteran performers giving free rein to their creativity, saddle up and ride.