Paris for Lovers, a compilation CD of the original recordings of French and American jazz-greats covering some great jazz, is a buffet of Franco-American fare. With performances from Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitgerald, Michel Legrand and Stephane Grappelli, to name a few, lovers from all shores can indulge with their romantic partner in this potpourri of odes to Paris and to love.
The opener, "April in Paris," the duet by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded in 1956, is timeless. Fitzgerald’s voice, as smooth as a fine Châteauneuf-du-Pape, perfectly paired with Armstrong’s throaty, playful vocals and impeccable trumpet, is like finding the best crusty bread to eat with your wine.
Indulge yourself and take in the next ten tracks (all the vocals, except for "April in Paris" and Armstrong’s 1950 recording of "La vie en rose," are in French) in front of a warm fire with someone you love. There’s nothing not to love about all the music on this CD, produced by the Verve Music Group, the world’s premier jazz label and recording company.
Parisian Michel Legrand (‘La valse de lilas"), best known as a pianist and composer has a haunting, yet lilting voice full of passion and pain.
Underrated New York songbird, Blossom Dearie ("Tout doucement"), effortlessly tiptoes over her lyrics with uncomplicated seduction. Guaranteed, you’ll be singing this in the shower and beyond.
Nina Simone’s bluesy-jazz 1965 recording of "Ne me quitte pas," hurts. She’ll pull your heartstrings up to your throat with her poignant plea to her lover to stay. It’s mesmerizing.
Abbey Lincoln, known for her interpretive stretching of words, pushes out the "bon" in "C’est si bon" with just enough of an American accent to her French.
Helen Merrill, another New York institution, has a smoky, sultry voice, accompanied by Stan Getz, among others, on tenor sax, on "Quand tu dors pres de moi."
Dutch vocalist, Laura Fygi, follows Merrill and sounds eerily similar to her on the 1992 recording of "Les feuilles mortes."
Three time-honored instrumentals, saxophonist Johnny Hodges’ 1958 recording of the Kern-Hammerstein, "The Last Time I Saw Paris," flutist Roland Kirk’s 1964 recording, "Petit fleur" and Parisian Stephane Grapppelli’s 1962 recording of "Nuages" on violin, round out this CD all worthy in their own right, but a bit out of place. All the vocal recordings are just so beautiful, that’s all you’ll want.
Armstrong’s 1950 recording of "La vie en rose" is the ideal finale. It floats through your senses; a just dessert; a fine cognac.