Sarah Lancman – Parisienne
(Jazz Eleven JZE11006. CD Review by Adam Sieff)
As the album title implies, Sarah Lancman is a Parisienne hailing from Les Halles in the heart of the city. This is the jazz singer’s fourth solo album since 2015 and features eight of her original songs, plus one each by Édith Piaf and Charles Aznavour.
Lancman started out studying classical piano and obtained her Diploma in Composition at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne. She had been thinking about concentrating on jazz and singing in particular for some time, but due to nodes on her vocal chords she never thought she’d make the grade. Just for the experience she entered the 2012 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition, and to her surprise ended up winning first prize from the panel chaired by Quincy Jones.
She eventually hooked up with the Italian pianist Giovanni Mirabassi, who had built a successful career since moving to Paris in the nineties. Parisienne is their fourth recording project together, following on from her previous two solo albums and one co-headline release with Mirabassi last year.
The opening track ‘Et Ainsi Va La Vie’ (And So Goes Life’) sets the mood for what’s to follow. It’s a bright and uplifting song performed in uptempo 3/4 time, with the core trio of Mirabassi and the vastly experienced rhythm section of double bassist Laurent Vernerey and drummer Stéphane Huchard supporting Lancman’s warm and pure voice.
The album is split between French and English lyrics, the latter performed with barely a hint of accent. The quality of her writing stands out, she sings about love and loss and there isn’t one track that doesn’t belong here. Highlights include the opener, the brooding acrostic poem ‘TO.K.Y.O. S.O.N.G’, the seductive ‘C’était Pour Toi’, the fine ballad ‘A New Start’ and the atmospheric ‘Ton Silence’, but I really liked them all.
The two cover songs are given dynamic arrangements and both feature some extraordinary playing from accordionist Marc Berthoumieux including a duel with Mirabassi’s piano on Édith Piaf’s ‘L’Hymne à l’amour’, the song returning for a tongue-in-cheek 51 second reprise after the final track.
The album’s other guest performer is alto saxophonist Pierrick Pedron, who plays a beautiful solo on the ballad ‘A New Start’ and lets fly on the fast-moving ‘The Moon and I’.
The album was produced by Lancman, recorded in Paris and mixed in New York by Max Ross, and sounds superb. Although this is very much Lancman’s album, Mirabassi plays a huge part, he is a wonderful musician who not only provides the singer solid support but embellishes her vocals perfectly and solos with melody and passion.
Sarah Lancman writes very good songs, has a clear and attractive voice, sings with great feeling and the playing is great. What I’m enjoying most about this album right now is ‘the reassurance in the familiar’, it’s not demanding or complicated, it’s just joyful.
Release date: 22 May 2020