A Tribute to Edith Piaf: Live at Montreux 2004

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Various Artists
A Tribute to Edith Piaf: Live at Montreux 2004
Eagle Rock Entertainment

The songs associated with Edith Piaf were celebrated at the 38th Montreux Jazz Festival in 2004, performed with heart-rending emotion. Like Billie Holiday's music, Piaf's songs reflected the joys and sorrows of life, bringing deep personal meaning to every word. Six singers took the stage that night, together bringing Piaf upfront and centre in a memorable performance captured on this DVD.

The singers are backed by Baptiste Trotignon (piano); Marc Berthoumieux (accordion); Remi Vignolo (bass) and Andre Ceccarelli (drums). They swing while capturing a mood convincingly and adding a vibrant dimension to the music. Their version of "Padam, Padam" has verve and bright, snappy harmonies, setting the mood for the rest of the night. Michael von der Heide, the only male singer, has the right stylistic bent, keeping his clasp on a statement and never over-reaching. It is a pleasing performance in a comfortable niche.

Barbara Morrison provides one of the highlights with "Autumn Leaves," singing with an assured air, letting the power of Johnny Mercer's words sink in before setting off to scat and let the song bounce. The two styles complement each other, and this is the one tune that goes jazz all the way.

The crux of a song lies in its interpretation, and each singer brings in an individual characteristic. Catherine Ringer, Regine and Angelique Kidjo are expressive singers who immerse themselves within a song until it throbs and palpitates with life. Only Ute Lemper goes over the top with her dramatization, and lets the deeper sentiment of the moment escape.

The finale comes with one, if not the most loved, of Piaf's songs. Each singer takes a verse of "La Vie En Rose" (the title of both the 1998 documentary about Piaf and the 2007 biopic for which Marion Cotillard won the Academy Award for best actress) before they all sing together. The first part creates another facet for the song; the second is the joyous culmination of an exhilarating evening.

Tracks: Baptiste Trotignon & Musicians: Padam Padam, Sous Le Ciel De Paris; Michael von der Heide: Mon Dieu, Amants D'Un Jour; Ute Lemper: Elle Frequentait La Rue Pigalle, Embrasse-Moi, L'Accordeoniste; Regine: Padam, Padam, Mon Menage A Moi; Barbara Morrison: Autumn Leaves; Catherine Ringer: C'Est a Hambourg, La Fille Et Le Chien, La Goualante Du Pauvre Jean; Angelique Kidjo: Johnny, Tu N'Es Pas Un Ange, Non Je Ne Regrette Rien, La Foule; All: La Vie En Rose.

Personnel: Baptiste Trotignon; piano and musical director; Marc Berthoumieux: accordion; Remi Vignolo: bass; Andre Ceccarelli: drums; Michael von der Heide: vocals; Ute Lemper: vocals; Regine: vocals; Barbara Morrison: vocals; Catherine Ringer: vocals; Angelique Kidjo: vocals.

Production Notes: 79 minutes. DTS Digital Surround Sound; Dolby Surround 5.1; PCM Stereo.

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