PARIS COMBO « 5 » - US Release/Tour 2013
My favorite French cultural export of the past decade is this French quintet, a quirky jazz-cabaret outfit that likes to take detours into exotic realms from time to time. After a few years on hiatus, they’ve released a fifth studio album, simply titled “5.” The song titles alone — “Goodbye Pinocchio,” “Lux,” “Fantôme Adoré” — convey some of the flavor of the music.
Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer
San Jose Mercury News
Paris Combo — "5"
Subtle, sophisticated and seductive, Paris Combo is back with its first album in several years, the fifth studio recording. It’s titled simply "5." Charming lead vocalist Belle du Berry and the zestful quintet breeze through a winning collection of tunes brightened by alt-pop, jazz, cabaret and world colors. The group makes music that’s romantic and bubbly.
Paris Combo 5 shatters the traditional concept of what some consider the Paris sound with a myriad of influences including the alluring vocals of Belle du Berry. Smoldering just beneath the surface there is an accessible Europop vibe, adventurous riffs, and swinging grooves that are carefully mixed with Latin, African and rumba rhythms all tightly woven around the tapestry that is the French cabaret sound. Paris Combo 5 is a return to the studio after a four year hiatus and is arguable one of the finest groups to come out of France in thirty years. (Note there are certain solo artists intentionally excluded from the group or ensemble setting). (5 stars)
World Music Central.org
Paris Combo’s savvy sound
With recordings like Paris Combo, Motifs, Living Room and Attraction to their credit, Paris Combo is back with 5, out now on the DRG Records label. Fashioned from lead vocalist Belle du Berry, guitarist Potzi, drummer, percussionist and vocalist Francois Jeannin, trumpeter, pianist and flugelhorn player David Lewis and contrabassist Emmanuel Chabbey, Paris Combo is a sleek, contemporary listen into that dishy, delightful sound particular to the French. Part cabaret, part jazz and part pop, Paris Combo offers up a sassy, seductive series of tracks on 5 that will listeners swooning and exclaiming with an accent.
Opening with the deliciously flirty “Je Te Vois Partout,” Paris Combo exudes a savvy sound replete with guitar, piano and some spine tingling brass lines fronted by Ms. Du Berry’s charming vocals. There’s plenty on 5 to please all kinds of fans, including the extravagant “Lux,” with its Middle Eastern licks and jazz soaked numbers like “Goodbye Pinocchio” and the silky “Morphee.” Ms. Du Berry’s vocals are so sultry on such tracks like “Les Cailloux Blancs” and “Fantome Adore” they’ll sneak up on and bite you on the neck … and you’ll enjoy it. Other delicious delights include the hopelessly catchy “Chaque Fois” and “Mediumisons.”
They’ve gone through a couple changes since they’ve last recorded over 6 years ago, but the Paris Combo finally got around to releasing their 5th album. The glorious mix of gypsy, jazz, cabaret and pop provided by Belle du Berry/voc, Potzi/g, Francois Jeannin/dr David Lewis/tp-fh-p and Emmanuel Chabbey/b is still exciting to hear. Ms du Berry’s saucy voice is in excellent form hear on buoyant pieces like “Je Te Vois Partout” and “Lux.” Potzi’s guitar mixes Depression Era two beat “Hot Jazzz” and Iberian rhythms with Left Bank sensibilities on “Morphee” and “Les Cailloux Blancs,” and Lewis’ growling jungle rhythmed horn work adds an extra dash of nighclub pop to the atmosphere. Celebratory and upbeat, they are still fun to have around the house!
Though Paris Combo has been popular in France for more than 15 years, the group has had limited exposure in the United States so far—not surprising given that they sing in French and their eclectic music is so difficult to categorize. There are certainly elements of traditional French cabaret, Django-esque gypsy jazz/swing, and also a multitude of “world music” influences from the Middle East and other far-flung locales. But their myriad influences are stirred together in a bracing cocktail that sounds distinctively like Paris Combo alone, even as it refers back to music spanning the ’20s to the ’60s.
The press materials note that the songs on 5 are all about the extremes of love. Looking at David Lewis’s English translations of the lyrics on pariscombo.com definitely brought that into focus for me. But even before I did that, I could appreciate the emotional range evident in du Berry’s vocals song to song, and the wonderfully varied instrumental accompaniment that is this group’s trademark. Clearly, you don’t have to be French to love Paris Combo.
Music & Musicians
Few musical terms can be more terrifying than “jazz fusion.” When supremely talented players go all crazy chemist and start mixing genres, things can get ugly fast. But that’s not the case with Paris Combo. The French five-piece hit big during the ’90s swing revival, but then, as now, they refused to be fitted for standard-issue zoot suits. On 5, their first album since 2004, these wily Parisians throw a fantasy cocktail party at their swanky space-age bachelor pad. They clink martinis glasses with Cab Calloway on “Je Te Vois Partout,” do shots with the British ska band Madness on “Tout Excusé” and blast ’60s mod-pop in between numbers. Shame the soiree only lasts 42 minutes.