JAZZ TIMES MAGAZINE from the April 2006 issue
Paris Blues (Raquel Bitton)
Last year, Dee Dee Bridgewater became the Gene Kelly of jazz, celebrating the joys of being an American in Paris with the Gallic valentine J'ai Deux Amours. Now, bona fide Parisian chanteuse Raquel Bitton is following suit, this time with an intriguing retro spin, paying track-by-track homage to 11 showbiz legends--Django Reinhardt, Sidney Bechet, Jean Sablon, Lucienne Delyle and Leo Marjane among them--who gave musical delineation to the arc of emotions that defined Paris prior to, during and immediately following the Second World War.
Even if you don't understand a word of French, it's impossible not to appreciate the raw grandeur of Bitton (who, as she's previously proven on CD and in various stage tributes, sounds precisely like a latter-day Edith Piaf) as she so expertly captures the smoky sophistication of Reinhardt's "Nuages" or the succulent joie de vivre of Bechet's "Petite Fleur" or, most profoundly, the gutsy magnificence of Marjane's "Je Suis Seule ce Soir."
Rasputin Manifesto/By Michael Fortes
When music transports you far away to desired places you can't get to otherwise, or simply can't afford at the moment, it's successful on a very important level. Raquel Bitton's Paris Blues hasn't been released yet as of this writing (it is scheduled to hit stores on the 21st of February), but I can already tell you it's an unqualified success.
Bitton's sweet, quavering yet controlled voice evokes the feeling of early 20th century Paris like few others singing in this day and age. She gives moving readings of Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur," Django Reinhardt's "Nuages," and the Billie Holiday-associated "I'm A Fool To Want You." Singing in both French and English, Bitton also takes us directly to the streets of Paris by including songs originally recorded by French jazz singers Lucienne Delyle, Suzy Solidor and Leo Marjane.
To top it off, Bitton's accompaniment is stellar throughout, with a piano-bass-drums rhythm section augmented by violin, guitar, mandolin, and a full bevy of horns and strings in tasteful arrangements.
2006 could be a big year for this Bay Area resident, as Paris Blues coincides with the release of the concert film "Piaf…Her Story…Her Songs," in which Bitton is documented singing twenty Edith Piaf songs in tribute to the late French chanteuse. Keep an eye and an ear open…
Jazz Trenzz: Raquel Bitton "Paris Blues" (RB Records 2006) Posted by: adminon Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - 08:16 AM
By Karl Stober
The moods and ambiance of Paris light up even brighter however with a more sensual tone as Raquel Bitton vocalizes the times then to the emotions now of that passionate city. Paris Blues released by RB Records in early 2006 has all the fire and intensity of an era filled with diverse attitudes. In Piafesque fashion Bitton releases vocally a splendid and compassionate expose of Paris 1940's style.
Whether the spins remind you of a night melting of romantic passion or of decanter of Bordeaux at a hidden Café the tones seem to fit the feel of the moment. The arrangements have been calculated with mood as the catalyst in many of the cuts however its Bitton's delivery which ignited this travelogue of sound through Paris.
One spin, which opens the listener's imagination, is “Paris S'eveille La Nuit” an Amaila Rodrigues classic that allows Bitton the luxury of expanding her talent. The flow and distinct tones of this piece conveys the disposition and texture of her talent.
The gayety of the French of that era is displayed flawlessly in the Suzy Solidor cut “Escale” which Bitton performs magically. Sultry is style Bitton expounds on the truest of Solidor's compassion for her craft and country. The arrangement has captured the talents of Bitton along with the atmosphere of the times, very nice job!
Bitton along with an orchestra of fine talents has crafted with triumph a feel of an era, an era of turmoil and tension. Justifiably liberated by romance of country and belief in a people. Bitton's tones are eloquent almost angelic at times during the compositions. This is a select representation in jazz of Paris then portrayed now!