Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Cécile McLorin Salvant and Dan Tepfer: A French Salon Grange Festival appearances

Among next month's festival highlights as the jazz summer festival season begins apace, the Grange Festival - a prestigious annual summer music festival held in Hampshire renowned for its opera programming - presents 'A French Salon' aka 'Les …

Published: 22 May 2024. Updated: 30 days.

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Among next month's festival highlights as the jazz summer festival season begins apace, the Grange Festival - a prestigious annual summer music festival held in Hampshire renowned for its opera programming - presents 'A French Salon' aka 'Les Belles Chansons Françaises' this year by showcasing multi-award winning American-French-Haitian singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and American-French pianist Dan Tepfer over two nights.

The duo explore their French heritage through chansons by Édith Piaf, Barbara, and Josephine Baker.

Virginie Sampeur inspired

There's also a world première (with full string orchestra) of a specially commissioned song cycle written for Cécile by Dan based on Virginie Sampeur's three last poems programmed.

The Port-au-Prince born Sampeur who lived from 1839-1919 is seen by some as Haitu's first woman poet and was widely appreciated during her lifetime not only in Haiti but also in France.

During the concerts Tepfer will also perform Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major. And the recitals will also feature guests the pianist Thomas Enhco and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gavin Sutherland.

Last year's Mélusine saw a big departure stylistically from McLorin Salvant widely recognised as one of the leading jazz singers of today. The eponymous figure in legend cursed to be a half-snake had originals and material sung not only in French but also the ancient southern French Occitan tongue as well as English and Haitian Kreyol ('Dame Iseut'). Sullivan Fortner on synths made a memorable contribution on 'D'un feu secret' and overall highlights included the jolly 'il m'a vue nue' ('he saw me naked').

The whole thing was beautifully sung - few singers have such formidable diction, emotional resource and strength as the American-French-Haitian musician. Further back in the catalogue for us Womanchild (2013) and For One To Love (2015) are McLorin Salvant's best albums and we heard her live memorably at Ronnie Scott's in 2015 when she appeared with the Aaron Diehl trio when the much elegised drummer Lawrence Leathers was in the trio.

TenderLee

Tepfer a decade ago was certainly high on our radar with Lee Konitz, Michael Janisch and Jeff Williams on First Meeting: Live in London: Volume 1 issued by bassist Janisch's label Whirlwind. First Meeting was recorded over a couple of nights at Pizza Express Jazz Club, a renowned basement supper-club venue in London’s Soho.

Cool School icon Lee Konitz played the soprano saxophone, an instrument he is not so much identified with, on a piano-less ‘All The Things You Are’, ‘Body and Soul’ (a piano/sax duo version) and ‘Alone Together’ (all four players, that’s Konitz with pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Michael Janisch, and drummer Jeff Williams). Tepfer’s beginning to ‘Stella By Starlight’ was certainly one of the highlights as was the Monkian dimension, again Tepfer setting things up on the intro to the off kilter swing of the trio take on ‘Giant Steps.’

Dates for the Grange Festival appearances are 28 and 29 June - tickets & more information

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Stuart Mack, Vibrations, Outside In Music ***1/2

Stuart Mack is known for his work with Dave Liebman and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Making his debut as a leader the New York based Mack certainly has virtuoso level chops lightly worn and is here on trumpet and flugel with equally accomplished …

Published: 22 May 2024. Updated: 30 days.

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Stuart Mack is known for his work with Dave Liebman and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Making his debut as a leader the New York based Mack certainly has virtuoso level chops lightly worn and is here on trumpet and flugel with equally accomplished seasoned players in saxophonist/flautist Alejandro Aviles, pianist Manuel Valera - check out Havana born Valera's brilliant Vessel issued last year. Also on Vibrations are bassist Adi Meyerson and drummer Dan Pugach whose excellent big band release Bianca earlier this year is worth your extended attention. Begun plangently and later 'Different Realities' also shares some common ground with the soundsphere of Ralph Alessi as far as top lines go. Also Valera's touch early on during 'Pure Intentions' is one of the highlights. But the pick of the tracks when the mood loosens properly is the swinging ''Stu's Blues' - so: solid beginnings charted here that augur well as a jumping off point and profile raising aural calling card. Stuart Mack, photo: Outside In