The encounter with the “Catalina Bar and Grill” music and ambiance is always a pleasure and a spiritually rewarding experience. Its high quality music aims to please a very diverse clientele and, over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of listening to jazz legends such as McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul.
I was really glad to discover the “Paris Chansons” band and their music a couple of years ago at the “Catalina” location, when they performed the “Moulin Russe” show, a delightful and highly entertaining potpourri of French and Russian songs, seasoned with unforgettable cultural fragrances. I returned on March 29, 2015, at the same historical Jazz Club in Hollywood, for a new, enriched and improved version of the show, with a highly fascinating “Argentinian twist”!
On that night, the “Catalina” room was filled to capacity, and the band members were greeted enthusiastically, by a very eager, appreciative audience. The repertoire was opened by Max Cohen, whose warm and subtle voice successfully resurrected the memories-permeated all-time beloved hits like Enrico Macias’ “Je m’appelle l’Orientale”, Nana Mouskouri’s “Milise Mou” or Gilbert Becaud’s “Natalie”. His Moroccan origins and Israeli background were identifiable in the exotic arabesques and voice modulations of his performance.
Following the first leg of the musical adventure, Jean-Louis Darville from Paris and Jacob Kantor from Moscow entertained the audience with a friendly banter interlude, based on each artist’s cultural background. While Jean-Louis revived the Parisian charm of “amour”, Montmartre, and Champs-Elysées, Jacob exulted the Russian melancholy of Moscovite winters.
Julia Kantor is fascinating due to her feminine, graceful presence, as well as her velvety, sensuous voice. Born in Ukraine, Julia studied in France and remained forever entranced by the French culture and the incomparable romanticism of “la chanson française”. She offered a lively, original interpretation of songs like: “Je veux” by Zaz and “Paris s’éveille” by Jacques Dutronc. I was genuinely taken with Julia’s ravishing rendering of “Quand elle rit aux éclats”, a song by “Vaya Con Dios”, that seems to access every rule of attraction, making the audience resonate and vibrate as one.
The third vocalist of “Paris Chansons” is Jean-Louis Darville, a true Frenchman who left the City of Lights, but never lost that “je ne sais quoi”, the Parisian “charme” and love for the French “chanson”. He revived all-time beloved classics like Aznavour’s “For Me Formidable”, Christophe’s “Aline” and an unforgettable song of a young Serge Gainsbourg: “Le Poinçonneur des Lilas”.
The show continued being enchanting and extremely entertaining, as the audience felt overwhelmed and spellbound by the bittersweet, unique taste of languid memories or pure and simple “joie de vivre”, elicited by songs performed with great pathos by Russian-born artist Jacob Kantor. The repertoire crossed cultures and genres, visiting, besides the realm of the French “chanson”, Russian ballads or love songs with Gypsy overtones, such as the ones from the movie “Cruel Romance” and from other classic cinematic gems with or by Nikita Mikhalkov. Among the various stations on this cultural and musical journey offered by “Paris Chansons”, we were treated to covers of Dalida’s “L’histoire d’un amour”, Toto Cutugno’s “Lasciatemi cantare”, Enrico Macias’ “Zingarella” and Joe Dassin’s “A toi”. Julia and Jacob Kantor revisited their Slavic roots through famous songs like “Ochi chyornye”, “Russian Tango” and some original “Paris Chansons” compositions by Jacob Kantor. I was pleasantly surprised by Julia’s personalized and fresh-sounding French rendering of Barbra Streisand’s “Woman in Love”.
Besides Jacob Kantor (voice and guitar) and Julia Kantor, Max Cohen and Jean-Louis Darville as vocalists, the “Paris Chansons” band is also composed of other four remarkable musicians: Jeff Lams on piano, Endre Balogh on violin, Adam Cohen on upright bass and Sinclair Lott on drums. On March 29, 2015, at the “Catalina Jazz Club” in Hollywood, the people in the audience were offered an exquisite surprise: the guest performance of the bandeoneonist Mariano Dugatkin from Buenos Aires. The bandoneon provided the exotic nuances that reminded the listener of the “nuevo tango” genre, made famous by Astor Piazzolla’s bandoneon compositions, to which Mariano ingeniously added Spanish, Yiddish and Russian touches.
The “Moulin Russe” musical journey was concluded with the four vocalists performing together Enrico Macias’ “Le mendiant de l’amour”, while the guests sang and some even danced, proving that “Paris Chansons” manages to unify everybody under a common umbrella of “joie de vivre”, down the memory lane of musical treasures of the world.
Joseph Campbell once said: “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that had been there all the while, waiting for you”. Following their path of rediscovering and recreating musical treasures of the collective memory of the soul, the members of the “Paris Chansons” band have obviously found their “sacred space” of happiness and are generously sharing it with us.
The “Paris Chansons” upcoming show, enticingly called “Vive l’amour!”, will take place at The Sofitel in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. (For news of “Paris Chansons”, visit http://www.parischansons.com.)