Billboard Bits: Wilson, DeGraw, Steel Pulse

News on Cassandra Wilson, DeGraw, Steel Pulse

WilsonCassandra Wilson, the singer largely responsible for leading vocal jazz into the future, is in Los Angeles recording her sixth album for Blue Note with T-Bone Burnett producing. Wilson is writing new material and covering such tunes as "Easy Rider" and "The Folks Who Live on the Hill." Support comes from Keb' Mo', Jim Keltner and others. A fall release is scheduled.

Wilson will take a break from the sessions to play a quick run of shows next week in Greenville, S.C. (March 29), Raleigh, N.C. (March 31), Atlanta (April 1), Orlando, Fla. (April 2) and Naples, Fla. (April 3). Also on her calendar is a June 6 date in Vienna, Va., with Al Jarreau and a July 21 show in Istres, France.

The as-yet-untitled new album will be the follow-up to 2002's "Belly of the Sun," which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart.

-- Dan Ouellette, N.Y.

GavinThe video for "Chariot," the title track and latest single from Gavin DeGraw's debut J album, will be directed by actor/director Zach Braff ("Scrubs," "Garden State"). "Zach and I met at one of my shows and I was so flattered to hear he was a fan of my music," says DeGraw, whose college tour pulls into Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday (March 30), a day after the video shoot in Los Angeles.

"I have been a fan of Gavin's music for a while and I think he is an amazing talent," adds Braff, who in February won a Grammy award as compilation producer for the "Garden State" soundtrack.

"Chariot" is No. 26 and No. 39 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 and Top 40 Mainstream airplay charts, respectively. The album of the same name peaked at No. 56 on The Billboard 200.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Steel"True Democracy" and "Earth Crisis," the first two albums Steel Pulse released through Elektra/Asylum, will be reissued June 7 by Rhino in remastered and expanded form. The first remains the Rastafarian rebel reggae act's best received disc in the United States, having peaked at No. 120 on the Billboard album chart; the latter topped out at No. 154.

The sets found the band moving from the independent Mango label and polishing some of the rawness from their sound. "Democracy" includes the well known "Leggo Beast" while "Earth" included "Steppin' Out." The reissues add previously unreleased 12" and dub mixes of album tracks and new liner notes.

Three decades since forming, Steel Pulse is still going, and earned a Grammy nomination for last year's "African Holocaust" (Ras/Sanctuary). Among the band's upcoming tour dates is a May 1 set at the
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.