Various "takes" on "The Little Sparrow"
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 03/10/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"With all the Academy Award excitement about the Oscar for actress Marion Cotillard who played the role of Edith Piaf (but didn't do the singing) in La Vie En Rose, Eagle Rock has made a timely release of this 70-minute concert from the 2004 Montreux Jazz Festival. If you know, and love Piaf's recordings, you will either love or hate this program depending on whether you want exact musical arrangements of her performances or, tiring of the standard arrangements, want to hear new ones performed by a variety of international artists (all, but one, in French). If you are only just coming to know Piaf, you will hear one or two big "hits" and another 14 or so lesser known songs that she recorded.
There are no introductions or comments made by any of the performers, except to have the artists' names announced by Montreux Jazz Fest producer Claude Nobs, so it's music for the whole show.
In addition to French singers like Regine and Catherine Ringer (both new to me), the concert includes West African singer Angelique Kidjo and German Chanteuse Ute Lemper. Barbara Morrison, the Michigan born jazz and blues singer is the only one to sing in English. The chosen song "Autumn Leaves" is not one usually associated with Piaf and Morisson's take is strictly jazz.
The arrangements by pianist Baptiste Trotignon, whose band accompanies the singer (after two instrumentals on their own) are much more jazz oriented than Piaf ever used. She was a "caberet" singer, not a "jazz performer".
The camera work and sound are excellent.
The "Finale" consists of all the performers "riffing" on the Piaf classic, "La Vie En Rose", and dancing around the stage to audience applause for nearly six minutes. Personally, I'd have preferred one serious interpretation of Piaf's trademark tune.
So, you will not learn much about Piaf from this tribute - and the liner note booklet is a bit confusing in it's text - but if you've got all Piaf's recordings and want to hear different interpretations of them, this DVD should serve the purpose.