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Caterina Valente/Catherine Michel: "Girltalk"

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This isn't a jazz album and even though it was released by a top jazz label and Nagel-Heyer doesn't claim that it is. Remember Caterina Valente who more than 45 years ago swept America with such pop hits as "I Love Paris" and one of the most exciting vocal versions of "Maleguena" ever. In the year 2000, she joined a major classical harpist Catherine Michel for a program of Latin and European songs, American standards and classical music.

Fluent in 12 languages, she recites, rather than sings, in English, Italian and French a dramatic "Sonata in C Minor (The Most Beautiful Sea) " with some of the loveliest harp playing on the CD. But not is all serious and somber. Once more in French, there's the cute, perky "Papa N'as Pas Voulu" which seques into a swinging blues. To show that she has lost little of her power and none of her phrasing and still keeps the pitch, Valente does "With a Song in My Heart" A Capella, singing a duet with herself. Each line of lyrics is followed by the same line done scat. Very effective. On some tracks, Valente's voice becomes another instrument complimenting Michel's harp with her wordless vocalizing, sometimes dubbed in as background vocals. This technique culminates in an exciting interpretation of Maurice Ravel's "Bolero", as the tension builds from the familiar soft beginning culminating at the end in a crescendo of voice and harp that become one at the end of this classical gem.

As stated at the outset, not jazz at all. But for those who appreciate performances by consummate artists, this album will be one of the best you purchase all year. Recommended.

Track Listing: Chiquilin de Bachin; Martina (Les Enfants qui Pleurent); And So It Goes; Gigi; Prelude No. 3; With a Song in My Heart; Andantino (Sonata in C Minor) The Most Beautiful Sea; The Way We Were; All of a Sudden My Heart Sings; Tout

Personnel: Caterina Valente - Vocals/Guitar/Percussion; Catherine Michel - Harp

Style: Vocal


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