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Concert Reviews

Celebrating Dinah and Sarah at Koerner Hall in Toronto



As part of the TD Jazz: Celebrating Dinah and Sarah series, Toronto jazz lovers were fortunate to see and listen a great performance by the veteran grand master of jazz, Ramsey Lewis with his quintet and the young upcoming singer Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Concert Review and Photos by Atael Weissman

Cecile McLorin Salvant_0037bwIt was quite symbolic to see Ramsey Lewis, composer and pianist, contemporary of Dinah Washington presenting a young award-winning  artist who discovered and interpreted Sarah’s, Dinah’s and Billie’s (Holiday) songs in her own unique way. This is the best possible way to pay tribute and remember those two iconic female jazz singers.

Talking about awards – you should check the long list on Ramsey Lewis web site. He even was an Olympic Torch Runner and carried the Winter 2002 Olympic Torch for the Ravinia segment during its journey to Salt Lake City.

What was impressive is to see a complete and total respect of the Master to the new generation of talented young performers keeping the jazz traditions alive, in this case Cécile McLorin Salvant, who has her own interesting story to tell.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, of French and Haitian heritage was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she began singing and studying music at early age.

In 2007, Cécile McLorin Salvant moved to France, to study law as well as classical vocals. That’s where she got introduced to the improvisational jazz and started to sing with her first band. Couple of years later the first album was recorded in France and the year after that she won the prestigious Thelonious Monk competition in Washington D.C.

Cecile McLorin Salvant_0035bwSince then she has performed at numerous international festivals, with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York’s Lincoln Center, and with her own band at the Kennedy Center, Detroit Jazz Festival and other venues.

With only four songs performed -too bad as the public was visibly aching for more- Cécile McLorin Salvant showed the whole range of her talent, from quiet ballads to fiery blues. It was a real revelation to see this young singer interpreting the proven standards with such maturity, poise and amazing vocal ability. You could feel and hear the voices of Sarah, Dinah, Betty, Carmen and Billie in these songs while this new generation singer found herself completely immersed in them.

And we all are so lucky to have found her!

Ramsey Lewis with his quintet and Cécile McLorin Salvant got a huge ovation from the excited full house, which was left slightly hungry for more of the spirit of the Jazz Divas of the past so perfectly projected on them.

Ramsey Lewis Quintet: Ramsey Lewis -piano; Joshua Ramos – bass; Charles Heath – drums; Henry Johnson – guitar; Tim Grant – keyboards.

More on Ramsey Lewis:

More on Cécile McLorin Salvant:


Atael Weissman’s main occupation is as an engineering consultant. Born, raised and educated in one of the former Soviet Union republics, which is now Latvia. He lived in Israel and now in Canada, for the last 28 years. Photography and jazz music have been his main hobbies for many years -perfect combination.

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