Either Way: From Marilyn to Ella
French chanteuse Anne Ducros is clearly enamored of Ella Fitzgerald. Four years ago, Ducros partnered with the Coupe de Vents Wind Orchestra to serve up an album-length salute to the First Lady of Song. In its wake comes this split-bill tribute, with Ella honored alongside polar-opposite American icon Marilyn Monroe. Remarkably, given the breadth of the Fitzgerald songbook, Ducros also carries over three tunes—“Laura,” “Dindi” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”—from the previous playlist.
With backing from a compactly supportive quartet anchored by her longtime pianist, Benoit de Mesmay, Ducros evokes neither Monroe nor Fitzgerald, though her dusky sexiness suggests a reasonable midpoint. An accomplished balladeer, she proves particularly enchanting on a tender “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” and a slowed, swirled “A Fine Romance.” She can also swing lightly to charming effect, notably on “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” and “Thou Swell,” though the sparkle of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is significantly dulled when placed in a similarly midtempo setting.
Oddly disruptive effects surface twice: “Summertime” is marred by curious jungle yips, and “Laura” is haunted by what seems an organ-fueled wraith. Equally misguided is Ducros’ sole original, the awkward music-as-balm title track.