Jean Brassard: Dix (Ten)

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Jean Brassard

Dix (Ten)

(Small World Network)

July 30, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Jean Brassard came to prominence in the cabaret world (having already been involved in television, recorded books, ballet, and as a commentator for The World Wrestling Federation in French) winning a Bistro Award for his tribute to Yves Montand. Now, he offers up a collection of his own songs—lyrics and music. The Canadian-born vocalist moves easily back and forth between English and French as both lyricist and singer. On the album, the songs alternate so there are five in English, five in French (none mix the two languages together).
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Brassard’s vocal style is clearly influenced by idol Montand: a comfortable musical conversational tone. He certainly can sing, but the emphasis is as much on the words. The lyrics are all devoted to the topic of love: “All manners of love: the one we want and look for, the one we refuse or is refused to us.”

His view tends to be combative: “Casting a fog over your eyes to blind you and throw you in the dark.” “I won’t be made a fool for my affection.” And perhaps the most original of all, which verges on camp while remaining sincere: “I’m down in the gutter of love” which resolves into “Dive into the glory of love.
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Mention should be made of Richard Maheux, variously credited as arranger, mixer, master, and player of six different instruments. The arrangements utilizing accordions, guitars, harmonicas (played by Brassard), and various winds, are charming and varied enough to keep this shortish (under 40 minutes) collection always interesting and appealing.

The packaging is equaling classy and attractive, but contains one major flaw: The booklet includes the lyrics to all the songs; unfortunately, only in the language in which they are performed so that there is no translation of the French numbers that make up half the recording, leaving them a bit of a mystery for most American listeners. This issue aside, this is a pleasant, witty album from a songwriter and singer we will hopefully hear again.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jean Brassard

    Thanks for this delightful review, Bart. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed our music. As per your note regarding the missing translations on the French songs, I agree with you and apologize as the lyrics are very important as well of course. The booklet was getting to be very big and we omitted them. A summery translation, not always riming, and in one occurrence a simple synopsis, of each French chanson is available here on my site:

    Ooh, that’s a long string!!

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