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Every nation has its country music. Paris brings to mind cabaret, modal folk melodies, lively dances, classical tradition and hot jazz. Jacky Terrasson looks at Paris from each angle. With acoustic guitarist Bireli Lagrene, the title track simmers in the hot, summertime climate Terrasson knows so well. Guitarist and pianist team up again on "I Wish You Love," with Fender Rhodes taking the familiar melody. After all, Paris does have a reputation for romance. Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" gets a facelift when Terrasson alternates piano with Rhodes to create unexpected changes in direction. "La Vie en Rose," as well, takes a turn for the unique. Piano and percussion give the ballad a hard-charging samba drive. Terrasson's powerful bass notes serve to intensify the street band marching atmosphere. Fender Rhodes enters the picture briefly and converses with piano. While not a classic rendition of this pearly gem, the leader reminds us that he's willing to take big risks in order to explore. As a whole, the album settles on the many facets of French popular song while eschewing an allegiance to improvised music. The take of "I Love Paris" that Terrasson used on his 1994 eponymous debut album by far exceeds what he's done here. Most of the 14 tracks limit the length of the music; thus, extensive improvisation takes a back seat. Several tunes are allotted a mere minute or two. It's not enough to adequately honor the great French popular songbook. Terrasson has shown that he's willing to take risks, but not all risks turn out well.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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