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David Linx & the Brussels Jazz Orchestra: Brel

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Perhaps you know him from the long-running off-Broadway hit Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, which remains a vital, much-performed revue a half-century after its debut. Or you know him from the massive, maudlin Terry Jacks hit “Seasons in the Sun,” based on his “Le Moribond”-or, most likely, from the endlessly covered “If You Go Away,” the rather faithful translation of his “Ne Me Quitte Pas.” Yet no matter your entry point, chances are you’re unaware of the immensity of Brussels-born Jacques Brel’s contributions to the arts, as an actor and singer, but foremost as a songwriter, arguably the finest craftsman of chansons in the history of modern music.

Fellow Belgian David Linx, one of Europe’s most gifted and versatile jazz vocalists, is fully aware of Brel’s prowess. So are all 16 members of the vibrantly imaginative Brussels Jazz Orchestra. Together, in their second album-length union (following 2007’s Changing Faces), they shape the sort of sterling jazz tribute that Brel’s work has deserved for far too long.

“Ne Me Quitte Pas” is here, magnificently rendered. David Bowie fans might recognize the haunting, briny “Amsterdam.” The eight other tracks (plus two bonus cuts) will likely be unfamiliar. Yet, from the ruminative tenderness of “La Chanson Des Vieux Amants” to the swirling, champagne-popping revelry of “Bruxelles,” they are all worth discovering, savoring and treasuring.

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Originally Published