The Jazz tradition has many roots, not a few of which are a bit difficult to see from the part of the tree I think we're in right now. This is one, and it's great fun. Equal parts zydeco, R&B, Louisiana gumbo, harmonica as little orchestra (to paraphrase Jimi Hendrix) and a not so distant memory of Lady Day, Galison and Peyroux simply can't be beat for both recalling some of the dear dead days between swing and bop, and slyly updating the tradition. I have no inkling how they do it, but dated as this music should sound it isn't so at all. You may just have to pick this up and try to figure that out for yourself. Note guest Mulo Franzl's lugubriously winking tenor sax in "Flambee Montalbanese": again, one should be blowing the dust off this bayou waltz (with an accordion, of all things, courtesy of Heinz Jeromim), but tain't a bit in sight. Could be the cultural signifiers strewn wisely herein from other eras, such as Ms. Peyroux' delicious vocals (within an ace of Billie Holiday in a very good mood... even on a blues like the title song) or a rousing closer made out of Stevie Wonder's "Heaven Help Us All."
Mr. Galison is no piker either, wielding a brace of harmonicas, each more delightful than the last: unlike Wonder, whose tone often resembled a synthesizer (though frankly Stevie might have been able to outplay a number of saxophonists on one of his good days), Galison's harmonica tone is a bit more pungent. His step-up on a sadly effective runthrough of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" (it almost cuts Bryan Ferry's take back in the '80s) nails it flat. Beautifully done. Jim Wormworth provides percussion and Conrad Korsch supple bass almost eveywhere hereon, while Peyroux charms with "The Way You Look Tonight"... done as a samba, yet. Hey, it works. And let us not forget the old warhorse (heard in many versionsthroughout the 7 seas) "Shoulda Known," the tale of the scorpion and the frog done with a Bob Weir lilt. Why didn't the Dead ever cover a version of this? Yeah, I know, there's only 24 hours in a day.
Thanks to Carly Simon for a funny look-in herein. I shall end this review on Madeleine and Will's original "Playin'," a fond if rose-colored view of the busking musician. Peyroux gives it all a good-humored if tired nod (with a certain gospelly chorus peeking up at intervals): "I know my life is just a song/ but I know I'll survive when the world's overtaken/ 'cause I love to play along..."
Nice to hear what just might have been a hint of Billie Holiday's gospel roots. Enthusiast of the abstract that I usually am, I know that the body's gotta have something to do as well, and if this doesn't make you dance I don't know what will. Don't stop the pre-bop.
by Kenneth Egbert
New Sounds - February 2005
Back to Contents Page
Jazz Now Interactive
Copyright Jazz Now, February 2005 edition, all rights reserved