Cécile McLorin Salvant & Sullivan Fortner
Born in Miami, Florida in 1989, Salvant studied piano beginning at age five, sang in a children’s choir at eight, and then began classical voice lessons. She pursued dual tracks as an undergraduate in France (her mother is French, her father Haitian) —studying French law at one university while attending the Darius Milhaud Conservatory studying baroque music and jazz. Though at the time she didn’t intend to sing professionally, she entered the Thelonious Monk competition in 2010 and won it. That led to a string of five acclaimed releases, each one more daring than the previous. Yet nothing Salvant has done can quite prepare listeners for the visceral intensity, concise yet prismatic writing, and genre-obliterating atmospheres of Ghost Song. The work draws on the tools this vocalist, composer, multiple Grammy winner, and MacArthur Fellow has utilized in the past, but in new and harrowing ways. It is, in the least glib sense possible, the rare departure that is also an arrival.
For the past decade, Sullivan Fortner has been stretching deep-rooted talents as a pianist, composer, band leader and uncompromising individualist. The GRAMMY Award-winning artist out of New Orleans received international praise as both key player and producer for his collaborative work on The Window (Mack Avenue, 2018), alongside multi-GRAMMY winner, vocalist-composer Cecile McLorin Salvant. In addition to associations with such diverse voices as Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Diane Reeves, Etienne Charles and John Scofield, Fortner’s frequent and longtime collaborators have included Ambrose Akinmusire, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stefon Harris, Kassa Overall, Tivon Pennicott, Peter Bernstein, Nicholas Payton, Billy Hart, Gary Bartz, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Fred Hersch and the late Roy Hargrove. A highly sought improviser, Fortner has performed across the country and throughout the world at such cultural institutions as Snug Harbor, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Sweet Lorraine’s and The Jazz Playhouse in New Orleans, and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz Standard and Smalls Jazz Club in New York City.