Meshell Ndegeocello

Acclaimed Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello just made her Blue Note Records debut with “The Omnichord Real Book,” a visionary, expansive and deeply jazz-influenced album that marks the start of a new chapter in her trailblazing career.

Following her covers album “Ventriloquism” (2018), she has created an album of new original material that taps into a broad spectrum of her musical roots. “The Omnichord Real Book” was produced by Josh Johnson and features a wide range of guest artists, including Jason Moran, Ambrose Akinmusire, Joel Ross, Jeff Parker, Brandee Younger, Julius Rodriguez, Mark Guiliana, Cory Henry, Joan as Police Woman, Thandiswa and others.

“It’s a little bit of all of me, my travels, my life,” she said. “My first record I made at 22, and it’s over 30 years from then, so I have a lot of stored information to share.”

Reflecting on the impact that the forced stillness of the pandemic lockdown had on her, she said, “I must admit it was a beautiful time for me. I got to really sit and reacquaint myself with music. Music is a gift.”

The death of her parents prompted Ndegeocello to record this album, which is “about the way we see old things in new ways. Everything moved so quickly when my parents died. Changed my view of everything and myself in the blink of an eye. As I sifted through the remains of their life together, I found my first real book, the one my father gave me. I took their records, the ones I grew up hearing, learning, remembering. My mother gifted me with her ache; I carry the melancholy that defined her experience and in turn, my experience of this thing called life calls me to disappear into my imagination and to hear the music.”

Ndegeocello first appeared on a Blue Note record a decade ago with her stunning feature on “The Consequences of Jealousy” from Robert Glasper’s Grammy-winning album “Black Radio” (2012). Two years later she collaborated with Jason Moran on ALL RISE, a reimagination of Fats Waller’s music for which she was featured vocalist and producer.

Reflecting upon time spent with her parents’ record collection during her childhood, she said, “I loved going through the records and seeing the Blue Note insignia. I stay away from the word ‘jazz,’ it’s a really heavy word, but I am so moved to be on a label that is about self-expression.”

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