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Raquel Bitton: Paris Blues

Last year, Dee Dee Bridgewater became the Gene Kelly of jazz, celebrating the joys of being an American in Paris with the Gallic valentine J’ai Deux Amours. Now, bona fide Parisian chanteuse Raquel Bitton is following suit, this time with an intriguing retro spin, paying track-by-track homage to 11 showbiz legends–Django Reinhardt, Sidney Bechet, Jean Sablon, Lucienne Delyle and Leo Marjane among them–who gave musical delineation to the arc of emotions that defined Paris prior to, during and immediately following the Second World War.

Even if you don’t understand a word of French, it’s impossible not to appreciate the raw grandeur of Bitton (who, as she’s previously proven on CD and in various stage tributes, sounds precisely like a latter-day Edith Piaf) as she so expertly captures the smoky sophistication of Reinhardt’s “Nuages” or the succulent joie de vivre of Bechet’s “Petite Fleur” or, most profoundly, the gutsy magnificence of Marjane’s “Je Suis Seule ce Soir.”

Originally Published