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Cécile McLorin Salvant brings tension and release to ‘WomanChild’

Cécile McLorin Salvant draws references to Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Betty Carter.
Cécile McLorin Salvant draws references to Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Betty Carter.John Abbott

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The tour de force on Cécile McLorin Salvant’s sublime new album – well, the first of a handful – is her performance of “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.” Her rendition of the Billie Holiday staple is eight minutes of twists and turns in the melody, of vocal shadings that simmer before boiling over. It ends the only way that makes sense: with McLorin Salvant unleashing a string of ecstatic high notes.

It comes from “WomanChild,” the rising 24-year-old jazz singer’s Mack Avenue Records debut, which delivers on the promise she exhibited after winning the vocal division of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010.

Ahead of her two performances at Regattabar on Friday, we recently caught up with McLorin Salvant over e-mail from her home in Miami.

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