VA – Très Chic – French Cool From Paris To The Côte d’Azur (2013)

FrontCover1Retro French music is very much in vogue on this side of the Channel and Union Square have sought to capitalise on this by releasing this most entertaining overview of 1950s and 1960s French music. While any two CD compilation can only ever hope to scratch the surface and more in-depth anthologies are required to be fully comprehensive, for the neophyte this actually serves it’s purpose well of introducing the listener to a whole raft of musicians. The music is neatly divided up between male crooners, Left bank existentialist singers, women singers and jazzier influences that includes both instrumentalists from famous French new wave film soundtracks, or French jazzers. Among the crooners, Yves Montand deserves to be heard by an anglophone audience and his interpretations of the music of Prévert are near definitive. Here he delivers the smooth sounding ‘C’est si bon’. Talking of smooth operators, Sacha Distel takes some beating and it may come as a surprise to non-French readers to learn that he was a very accomplished jazz guitarist before becoming a singer. Arguably his most famous song is showcased here, ‘Scoubidoo’. Henri Salvador gained international recognition late in his career, but this early jazz scat, ‘C’est le be bop’, is an indication of what was to follow. While Charles Aznavour is best known in the UK for ‘She’, his late 1950s and early 1960s sides were full of emotion and jazzy orchestrations and ‘Je me voyais, déjà’ is typical of his output from the era. For more left-field sounds, this compilation deserves great credit for including some of the following singers. Bobby Lapointe came to prominence as a subversive singer who made a brief appearance in François Truffaut’s ‘Shoot the pianist’ film. Here ‘Framboise’ is boisterous, fast-paced and a delight from start to finish.

Inlet01APreceding the 1960s starlettes by a decade, Juliette Gréco possesses a deep, throaty voice that was ideally suited to interpreting Gainsbourg and Prévert and ‘Si tu t’imagines’ is just one of her vast repertoire and a fine example at that. Léo Ferré is the current French president’s favourite singer and the melodic ‘A Saint Germain des Prés’ is an early illustration of Ferré’s beautiful voice. He would later become famous for his lengthy literary raps and he was very much an anti-establishment figure. Barbara may be less known outside France, but has few equals in France as a singer-songwriter and ‘Dis quand reviendras-tu?’ is a fine example of her pared down sound. Jacques Brel needs little introduction, but for those as yet unaware ‘La valse à mille temps’ shifts gear as only Brel knows how and he is an all-time great of the French language. Last, but by no means least, Serge Gainsbourg is nothing less than a national treasure, but interestingly for those who are familiar with his later psychedelic period, here the focus is on his jazz period. Both ‘Intoxicated man’ and ‘Requiem pour un twister’ are superior examples of his early period that stand the test of time. A trio of French women singers includes the obligatory Françoise Hardy and her seminal ‘Tous les garcons et les filles’, another Truffaut sound track song by Jeanne Moreau, ‘Le Tourbillon’, featured in the delightful ‘Jules et Jim’ film and a melancholic sounding Brigitte Bardot on ‘Sidonie’.

Inlet02AJazz musicians featured include Miles Davis and his stunning contribution to Louis Malle’s ‘Lift to the Scaffold’ film and pianist Martial Solal and the terrific soundtrack to Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal ‘A bout de souffle’/’Breathless’. Noteworthy are two other pieces, the Latin-jazz influenced ‘No hay problema’ by Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers and a vocal number by Claude Nougaro. This French singer deserves a compilation of his own for an English-speaking audience, such is the richness of his 1960s jazz and 1970s Brazilian flavoured songs. A final mention should be made for France’s answer to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, les Double Six who deliver a stunning version of one of Art Blakey’s staple tunes ‘Moanin’. All in all a musical experience that is truly a ‘joie de vivre’! (by Tim Stenhouse)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Françoise Hardy: Le temps de l’amour (Dutronc/Salvet/Morisse) 2.23
02. Serge Gainsbourg: Requiem pour un twisteur (Gainsbourg) 2.37
03. Jeanne Moreau: Le tourbillon (Bassiak/Delerue) 2.03
04. Les Double Six: Rat Race (Jones/Perrin) 2.35
05. Claude Nougaro: Le cinéma (Legrand/Nougaro) 2.56
06. Sacha Distel: Brigitte (Brousolle/Distel) 2.17
07. Magali Noël: Alhambra-Rock (Goraguer/Vian) 2.35
08. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: No hay problema (Marray) 4.33
09. Charles Aznavour: Je m’voyais déjà (Aznavour) 3.22
10. Claude Nougaro: Les Don Juan (Legrand/Nougaro) 3.17
11. Léo Ferré: À Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Ferré) 3.01
12. Michel Legrand: Blues chez le bougnat (Legrand) 2.08
13. Charles Trenet: Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (Trenet/Chauliac) 3.10
14. Henri Salvador: C’est le be bop (Vian/Dieval) 2.05
15. Sacha Distel: Marina (Reardon/Distel) 4.11
16. Mouloudji: Comme un p’tit coquelicot (Grasso/Valery) 3.43
17. Anna Karina: Chanson d’Angela (Legrand/Godard) 2.23
18. Boby Lapointe: Framboise (Lapointe) 2.39
19. Catherine Sauvage: Black Trombone (Gainsbourg) 2.29
20. Corinne Marchand: La joueuse (Varda/Legrand) 1.52

CD 2:
01. Claude Nougaro: Le jazz et la java (Datin/Nougaro) 2.24
02. Françoise Hardy: Tous les garçons et les filles (Hardy/Samyn) 3.05
03. Serge Gainsbourg: Intoxicated Man (Gainsbourg) 2.35
04. Line Renaud: Sexe (Gaste) 3.32
05. Jacqueline Dano: Chanson de Lola (Varda/Legrand) 2.12
06. Jacques Brel: La valse à mille temps (Brel) 3.48
07. Martial Solal: New York Herald Tribune (Solal) 1.26
08. Les Double Six: Moanin’ (Timmons) 3.09
09. Magali Noël: Strip-Rock (Goraguer/Vian) 2.16
10. Boris Vian: Je suis snob (Walter/Vian) 2.49
11. Brigitte Bardot: Sidonie (Cros/Spanos/Riviere) 2.52
12. Barbara: Dis quand reviendras tu? (Barbara) 2.52
13. Juliette Gréco: Si tu t’imagines (Queneau) 2.42
14. Yves Montand: C’est si bon (Homez/Betti) 2.33
15. Henry Cording: Vas t’faire cuire un oeuf man (Sinclair/Mike) 2.51
16. Sacha Distel: Scoubidou (Teze/Distel) 3.00
17. Gilbert Becaud: Me-que-me-que (Becaus/Aznavour) 2.27
18. The Miles Davis Ensemble: Générique (nuit sur Les Champs-Élysées) (Davis) 2.53
19. Brigitte Fontaine & Areski: Il pleut sur la gare (Areski/Faintaine) 1.47
20. Valérie Lagrange: Si ma chanson pouvait (Lagrange) 5.25

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Dean Martin – Forever Cool (2007)

FrontCover1 The concept of the artificially created duets collection — in which newly recorded vocal or instrumental performances by an array of big-name contemporary artists are spliced with existing tracks from another artist, living or dead — is hardly a new one. Now it’s Dean Martin’s turn: Capitol Records, Martin’s home throughout most of the 1950s, follows the established format by taking vintage tracks by the late, beloved crooner and grafting onto them vocal takes by country star Martina McBride, neo-R&B diva Joss Stone, actor Kevin Spacey, jazz musicians Chris Botti and Dave Koz and others, to unsurprisingly mixed results.

DeanMartin01The thing to keep in mind before diving in to Forever Cool is that Martin’s coolness credentials have never been in question — hence the title — whereas just about anyone who would dare breathe in his airspace is relatively uncool by default. Spacey, for example, may be engaging on the screen, but pretending to banter with the monumentally überhip Dino on “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” (which Martin cut for Reprise, his post-Capitol label, on 1965’s (Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You album), only makes Spacey seem dorky and the whole exercise somewhat ghoulish. Relative newbies like Stone and former American Idol contestant Paris Bennett don’t stand a chance in this company, trying so hard when all Martin has to do is open his mouth. Even a seasoned vocalist like McBride, taking the traditional female role in Frank Loesser’s seasonal perennial “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” comes off as flat and uninspired. And Robbie Williams’ turn on “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” just emphasizes that he’s out of his league.

The instrumentalists fare better: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was born to create Rat Pack-style big-band arrangements, and they do Martin justice on both “Who’s Got the Action” and “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” which they share not only with the big bad CharlesAsznavourvoodoo boozer himself but with country’s Shelby Lynne, who holds her own. And both Botti (trumpet) and Koz (sax), maybe because they don’t need to vocalize, only blow and brighten up their respective tracks: “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” and “Just in Time.” There is one true standout here, the only character in the bunch with as much certifiable personality as Martin, and that would be French superstar Charles Aznavour, who swings with Dino on the signature “Everybody Loves Somebody.” Too bad, however, that the original hit single was not used but instead a lesser version. In the end, it’s Dean Martin who saves the day each time out. What Forever Cool ultimately reaffirms is that there is no one like him. So just don’t go expecting world-class performances from the posthumous partners and it’s easy to have a good time with this experiment in studio manipulation. Now, where is that martini? (by Jeff Tamarkin)

DeanMartin02Personnel:
Kevin Axt (bass)
Charles Aznavour (vocals)
Rick Baptist (trumpet)
Paris Bennett (vocals)
Wayne Bergeron (trumpet)
Chuck Berghofer (bass)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (vocals)
George Bohannon (trombone)
Chris Botti (trumpet)
Brian Bromberg (bass)
Richard Bullock (trombone)
Lee Callet (saxophone)
John Chiodini (guitar)
Rob Christie (background vocals)
Gene Cipriano (saxophone)
Vinnie Colaiuta (drums)
Bill Elton (trombone)
Tiziano Ferro (vocals)
Gregg Field (drums)
Joey Gian (background vocals)
Craig Gosnell (trombone)
Gary Grant (trumpet)
Daniel Greco (vibraphone)
Justin Hageman (french horn)
James Harrah (guitar)
Dan Higgins (saxophone)
Greg Huckins (saxophone)
Dave Koz (saxophone)
Steve Kujala (flute)
Michael Lang (piano)
Charles Loper (trombone)
Sal Lozano (saxophone)
Warren Luening (trumpet)
Larry Lunetta (trumpet)
Shelby Lynne (vocals)
Frank Marocco (accordion)
Andy Martin (trombone)
Dean Martin (vocals)
Martina McBride (vocals)
Bob McChesney (trombone)
Larry McGuire (trumpet)
Rick Mitchell (flute)
Suzette Moriarty (french horn)
Brian O’Connor (french horn)
Tom Ranier (piano)
Paula Salvatore (background vocals)
Bob Sheppard (saxophone)
Robert Shulgold (flute)
Kurt Snyder (french horn)
Kevin Spacey (vocals)
Joss Stone (vocals)
Vince Trombetta (saxophone)
Randy Waldman (piano)
Chauncey Welsch (trombone)
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Capitol Studio Orchestra

Booklet04ATracklist:
01. Who’s Got the Action?  (feat. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) (Duning) 3.12
02. Ain’t That A Kick In The Head? (feat. Kevin Spacey) (Van Heusen(Cahn) 2.38
03. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face (feat. Chris Botti) (Loewe/Lerner) 3.05
04. Baby O (feat. Paris Bennett) (Mercer/Rotella)
05. Who Was That Lady? (with The Capitol Studios Orchestra) (Heusen/Cahn) 2.24
06. Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone (feat. Robbie Williams) (Stept/Clare) 2.32
07. I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love (feat. Joss Stone) (Gaskil/McHugh) 2.42
08. Just In Time (featuring Dave Koz) (Styne/Comden/Green) 2.43
09. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (feat. Martina McBride) (Loesser) 2.56
10. King Of The Road (featuring Kevin Spacey) (Miller) 3.14
11. You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (feat. Shelby Lynne and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) (Morgan/Stock/Cavanaugh) 3.10
12. Arrivederci Roma (feat. Tiziano Ferro) (Rascel/Garinei/Giovannini/Sigman) 2.43
13. Everybody Loves Somebody (feat. Charles Aznavour) (Taylor/Lane) 3.17
14. Lullaby (Brahms/Traditional) 2.12

 

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Charles Aznavour – Same (1962)

FrontCover1 Charles Aznavour is perhaps the best-known French music hall entertainer in the world — renowned the world over for the bittersweet love songs he has written and sung, which seem to embody the essence of French popular song, and also for his appearances on screen in such wildly divergent fare as Shoot the Piano Player, Candy, and The Tin Drum. His status as the quintessential French popular culture icon is something of an irony for a man who identifies himself most closely with his Armenian heritage. Born Shahnour Varenagh Aznavourian, his French roots derive from the fact that his family fled the threat of massacre by the Turks — his father was a singer and sometime-restauranteur, while his mother was an actress and part-time seamstress. His father’s singing, done in a notably impassioned style, heavily influenced Aznavour’s approach to singing as a boy. Although he had a voracious appetite for music, he also had a serious impediment growing up, in the form of a paralyzed vocal cord that gave his voice a raspy quality. He channeled some of his energy into theater, making both his stage and screen debuts at age nine, in 1933, in the theater piece Un Bon Petite Diable and in the film La Guerre des Gosses. As an adolescent, he danced in nightclubs and sold newspapers, as well as touring with theatrical companies, and he wrote a nightclub act in partnership with Pierre Roche — Aznavour wrote the lyrics to their songs and it was through that material that he began his singing career. Early on, he learned to overcome his fears about his vocal limitations, in part with help from singing legend Edith Piaf, for whom he worked as a chauffeur, among other capacities; with her help, he developed a style that suited his capabilities and played to his strengths and also continued writing songs in earnest, some of which were performed by Piaf.

AznavourHis success came very slowly, however. Aznavour at first found some difficulty being accepted as a composer in France or anywhere else. His compositions, although considered tame by any modern standard, were regarded as too risqué for French radio and were banned from the airwaves for a decade or more, from the late ’40s through the end of the 1950s; American publishers seemed equally reticent about them, as he discovered on a visit to New York in 1948. That trip did yield his first performing engagement in the city, however, at the Cafe Society Downtown in Greenwich Village. For the next decade, Aznavour made his living as a performer in second-tier clubs and middle- or bottom-of-the-bill berths on three continents. His mix of daringly original and frank love songs, coupled with a limited but very expressive singing style, left audiences somewhat bewildered at first.

Aznavour2His breakthrough came in 1956, during a vaudeville engagement in Casablanca, where the audience reaction was so positive that Aznavour was moved to headliner status. After this, it became easier for the singer to find better engagements in France; by 1958 he even had a recording contract. He made his screen debut that same year in a dramatic role, playing an epileptic in George Franju’s La Tete Contre les Muirs. He also composed music for Alex Joff’s Du Rififi Chez Les Femmes in 1958; from there, he moved on to bigger roles in better movies, including Jean Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus and Francois Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player. The latter movie turned Aznavour into a screen star in France and opened the way for his breakthrough in America. He sang at Carnegie Hall in the early ’60s and followed this up in 1965 with a one-man show, The World of Charles Aznavour, at the Ambassador Hotel in New York, which drew rave notices from audiences and critics alike. By that time, the once-struggling singer had secured his first American LP release with the similarly titled album The World of Charles Aznavour on Reprise Records, the label founded and run by Frank Sinatra. (by Bruce Eder)

If you listen to this 10 inch LP you´ll know why Charles Aznavour is the best-known French music hall entertainer in the world. We all should discover the exciting world of his music !

BackCover1Personnel:
Charles Aznavour (vocals)
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Burt Random Orchestra
Paul Mauriat Orchestra

MauriatAznavour
Paul Mauritat & Charles Aznavour

Tracklist:
01. Alleluia (Aznavour) 3.13
02. L’Amour c’est comme un jour (Stephane/Aznavour) 3.42
03. Notre amour nous ressemble (Plante/Aznavour) 2.45
04. Au rythme de mon coeur (Aznavour/Missir) 2.34
05. Esperanza (Aznavour/Cabrera) 2.34
06. Les comédiens (Plante/Aznavour) 2.23
07. Trousse-Chemise (Mareuil/Aznavour) 2.24
08. Tu n’as plus (Aznavour) 3.11
09. Dolorès (Plante/Aznavour) 3.25
10. Les Petits Matins (Aznavour/Garaventz) 2.46

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