Sophisticated Ladies: A True Story (2012)
Bordeaux-based Sophisticated Ladies joins an illustrious tradition of female jazz group that stretches back several decades to include International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Beryl Booker's Diva trio and its offshoot, FivePlay Jazz Quintet, as well as Japan's Groovin' Girls trio.
Elegant and understated interpretations of standards and chansons, often with Latin hints, make up the quartet's debut, A True Story. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rachael Magidson accompanies her sublime delivery of lyrics and subtly sensuous voice with exquisite Afro Cuban percussion on "Sophisticated Lady." Her dark and refined flugelhorn also adds a nocturnal mystique to the song. Her gorgeously mellow and fat tone on "Insensatez" blows like a fragrant and heady breeze over the enchanting and atmospheric harmonies. The piece also features conservatory-trained bassist Nolwenn Leizour 's lyrical pizzicato improvisation, backed by pianist Valerie Chane-Tefs sparse notes and drummer Magidson's snare.
Chane-Tef showcases a versatile pianism that ranges from classically influenced, sonata-like sounds on "You Go To My Head" to more up-tempo bossa nova romanticism on "Autumn Leaves." "You Go to Me Head" also features Leizour's percussive bass, while "Autumn Leaves" highlights Emilie Calme's soaring flute acrobatics. Calmé's intricate solo is the highlight of the tango-esque instrumental, "Segment," while her contemplative and exotic side is displayed on "Gone with the Wind" as she switches to an Indian Bansuri bamboo flute. The track also features her deliciously angular duet with Leizour's asymmetric bass lines.
This engaging freshman effort not only highlights the individual talents of the band members but also an impressive camaraderie that causes the music to seamlessly flow from the group's collective performance. The spicing of the record with various ethnic influences makes it even more alluring. Hopefully Sophisticated Ladies' next effort will be a tad longer and fleshed out with more of Magidson's virtuoso playing.
Track Listing: The Lady Is A Tramp; Sophisticated Lady; Autumn Leaves; You Go To My Head; Segment; Gone With The Wind; Insensatez; Dansz Sur Moi.
Personnel: Nolwenn Leizour: bass, vocals; Valerie Chane-Tef: piano, vocals; Rachael Magidson: vocals, percussion, flugelhorn; Emily Calme: flutes, vocals.
Record Label: Self Produced