Elsie Parker & the Poor People of Paris

Je T'aime Encore
(self-released)

In "Give Paris One More Chance," Jonathan Richman claims that "the home of Piaf and Chevalier/Must have done something right to get passion that way." Vocalist and woodwinds player Elsie Parker shares that passion for French cabaret music around town, singing the songs made famous by Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier as well as other French vocal stars such as Jacques Brel and Charles Trenet. On Je T'aime Encore ("I Love You Still"), Parker and her backing trio lend a jazz-based flair to these songs.

As you may have guessed, these songs are sung in French, so unless you've brushed up with a Berlitz course lately, you'll be left to enjoy the mellifluous language and able musicianship. Parker can be breathy and coy on one song and strident and forthright on the next; her changing tone enhances the drama. As a saxophonist and flautist, Parker plays sweet, sonorous lines that never step over her backing trio. "Gato, Gato," her tribute to fellow sax player Gato Barbieri, works off of a shuffling Latin beat and gives the band one of the few borderless moments on an otherwise ordered record. And what would a collection of French songs be without a pass at "La Vie en Rose," Piaf's signature song? Here, Mike Carosello's piano sets the tone, languid and bittersweet, over which Parker lightly treads.

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