Featured artist: MADELEINE PEYROUX
about the Billie Holiday voice: you either like it for its BH
or you don’t; unless you already know it as the incomparable
vibe and veracity of
Madeleine Peyroux . Either way, from the very
first note, there can be no doubt that this achingly sweet gift
has been informed by a life intensely lived and felt.
her first album Dreamland (1996) was released, it has
been one of jazz’s not so little secrets that another remarkable
cross-over diva -- à la Nora J. and Diana K. -- is in our
midst, fusing the lexicon of jazz and distinctive vocal inflections
onto both familiar music and music she makes familiar through
an uncanny ability to induce even the most unsuspecting lyrics
to betray their unsuspected depths.
busking on the streets of Paris at the age of 15. By 22, she released
Dreamland, a solid bluesy affair reflecting her early
years in Georgia. Under the sway of starry nights and cities of
light, and a timetable improvised to accommodate her artistic
vision, we had to wait eight long years for her second album,
Careless Love (2004), where you won’t find even
a trace element of the title in the ‘love’ and ‘care’
she brings to imaginative interpretations of Bessie Smith, Leonard
Cohen and Bob Dylan.
voice is a rare and precious instrument every lyric dreams of
being held by. On a dime, it can unexpectedly dive and disappear
into some nameless hurt, only to rise and sputter into thin air
and silence, or float off into some inexplicable happiness. But
despite an emotional range that oscillates between the unbearable
and the bird-chirpy side of life, Peyroux never upstages the song
– so it is always the latter that impels itself into our
playlists -- which isn’t to say that a voice that makes
schizophrenia sound easy isn’t going to grab our attention.
beautifully impossible "This is Heaven To Me," Peyroux
coaxes word and music to the threshold of unstable truth, where
note by note she leads us out of some unimaginable bottom, and
through the power of her art makes the song’s wonderful
but easy-to-miss modulations the stuff of the transcendental.
Through Peyroux we learn that music, at its essence, is a cathartic
medium, made to outlast even the darkest of nights.
Peyroux already belongs to that elite class of singers who immediately
own the songs they sing. How far can she go? How high is the moon?
catch Madeleine at the
Montreal Jazz Festival July
3rd and 4th.
to her sing THIS
IS HEAVEN TO ME