Review: Jil Aigrot at the Cabaret

Jil Aigrot perfomed effortlessly ranging from whispering to edgy melodies.

4 stars

The Cabaret At the Columbia Club, March 23

If French singers run

a gamut from the socko intensity of Edith Piaf to the

whispered intimacies of Francoise Hardy, then Jil Aigrot has found a graceful balance between the two.

Aigrot, who is best known for having sung the Piaf part in the film La Vie en Rose, performed

what amounted to a survey of mid-20th Century French popular music

for a full house at the Cabaret last week, covering chansons made famous by

such iconic artists as Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel and Michel

Legrand.

It was a welcome reminder that the French

have a rich songbook of their own, comparable in many ways to its American

cousin. But while the American version relies heavily on jazz, the French

tradition has a more theatrical bent. That theatricality - coupled with the

expressive beauty of the French language - is more than enough to make up for

whatever might be lost in translation.

Aigrot, who was accompanied by a pianist and a second

musician who handled drums, an accordion and a xylophone, sang with a bell-like

effortlessness through the first set. If anything, she was laidback to a fault,

choosing to deliver a number of tunes from a sitting position. She brought a

greater edge to her second set, which was heavily

weighted towards Piaf. This time around, Aigrot was

on her feet and nailing every nuance with clarity and unsullied depth.

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