The N'Euro Jazz Band: Swing for a Dream (2002)

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The N'Euro Jazz Band is actually a French ensemble looking for a wider audience, hence its more inclusive name. Composed of "musicians amateurs et talenteux," it is patterned after that country's most enduring and successful big band, the one led by pianist Claude Bolling. With two exceptions — Bolling's "The Bankers" and "Dors Bonhomme" — the repertoire consists of tried-and-true themes, performed capably but without much élan, as the French would say. On a continuum, N'Euro is closer to Lawrence Welk than to Basie or Ellington. It's almost impossible to play Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings," for example, without swinging, but N'Europa comes perilously close. Even so, they're doing the best they can, and one can't censure them for that. Like Bolling, N'Euro uses a rhythm guitar (Pierre Licour) on most selections, and he labors valiantly (if not always successfully) to keep the pulse alive on "Shiny Stockings" and elsewhere. When he's not around, as on "Harlem Nocturne," the ensemble seems unable to overcome the loss, reaching its nadir on three dreadfully awkward vocals by Céline Kot ("Georgia on My Mind," "Moonlight Serenade," "All of Me"). Even after conceding that English isn't her language of choice, one simply can't find much good to say about Kot's way with a song, so the less said the better. As for the band, it is most definitely "amateur" — as for "talenteux," well, there's some talent there but hardly enough to raise the ensemble above its present level of proficiency. More seasoning should help, and one would like to hear what N'Euro may sound like in another decade or so.

Contact: Phone 03.21.20.35.52; web site, http://njb.online.fr; e-mail njb@online.fr

Track Listing: Perdido; Harlem Nocturne; Georgia on My Mind; The Bankers; Moonlight Serenade; Tico-Tico; Dors Bonhomme; Shiny Stockings; All of Me (43:40).

Personnel: Fulvio Padovani, music director; Olivier Delattre (7-9), Jean-Christophe Calimez, Reynald Belka, J

Style: Big Band


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