ALBUM: Carleen Anderson Cage Street Memorial – The Pilgrimage
Cage Street Memorial ~ The Pilgrimage, Carleen Anderson’s 7th solo album, is something special, different and absolutely unique. The winner of Jazz FM’s 2013 Best UK Vocalist Award blends styles ranging from jazz, soul, gospel, opera, to classical chamber music. The mixture of musical genres makes this an exciting, genuine and highly personal offering that sits far outside the boundaries of contemporary soul and urban music. This project is not just an album of original music, it is one part of a creative trilogy, also taking the form of a multi-media theatre production and Carleen’s generational book, Cage Street Memorial ~ The Chapel of Mirrors.
Carleen has lovingly crafted this album using the whole of her talents, lifelong influences and experiences and forged all this into a stand out evolution allowance imbued throughout with her delicate personal approach. Utilising basic instrumentation – her incredibly versatile voice and simplistic piano manner, Orphy Robinson’s synergistic vibraphone & percussion, Samy Bishai’s consummate violin playing, and the subtle and diligent bass skills of Renell Shaw – the collective musicianship delivers an authentic concept.
While each of Anderson’s compositions and arrangements for this soundscape of a tribal narrative symbolises a specific significance, here are a few to signify her chronicle notations:
Upwards from the Ground, lyrically describes an abandoned little girl tracing her roots for salvation as a middle-aged woman. The links of the African Diaspora expressed in the multi-dimensional percussive performance by Orphy Robinson sets the tone for a sort of it takes a village to raise a child theme. The build of the rhythmic groove transports the vocal melodies supported by the harmonies provided by the vibraphone, violin and bass to symbolise the rise from the ashes in spite of dire circumstances.
A chance YouTube viewing of singer/pianist Blossom Dearie alongside vibraphonist Peter Appleyard inspired Anderson to reference the Rachmaninoff motif swung by Charlie Parker for the bass line in her tune, All That Glitters. The subject matter of the song relates to the parallels of fools rushing in pursuit of golden love as it links to the perils of Anderson’s music industry heritage, being the Goddaughter of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, the stepdaughter of the JB All Stars’ Bobby Byrd, and the daughter of soul singer, Vicki Anderson, aka, Myra Barnes, who was often cited as the most favoured of James Brown’s featured vocalists. The jazz tinged swing of this composition is a cautionary tale to mind that things may not be what they seem.
With the platform provided by her singer/songwriter contributions for the band, The Young Disciples, whose album Road to Freedom and music chart hit, Apparently Nothing, introduced Anderson to an audience beyond the shadows of her inherited legacy, Pond Crossing contextualises the grateful awareness she has of the podium the UK supplied her with. England’s embrace of Anderson led to her Brit Award nominated first solo album, True Spirit, followed by her second album, Blessed Burden, co-produced with Paul Weller. In between her independent album releases, Alberta’s Granddaughter, Grace & Favours, Up to Now and Soul Providence, Anderson was honoured to be featured and/or collaborate with Nigel Kennedy, Dr. John, Omar, Meshell Ndgeocello, Sir Paul McCartney, Incognito, the London Community Gospel Choir, Johnny Cash, Pops Staples, Ramsay Lewis, the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, Lalah Hathaway, and Chrissie Hynde, a short list of the wide range of artists she’s worked with. The music and lyrics are a snapshot of an ocean put into a cup.
In this seventh autonomous overture, Anderson redefines herself as a Singing Poet from the New Guard, setting music to the scenes of the human experience. CAGE STREET MEMORIAL is The Pilgrimage.