Chloé Perrier: American Divas in Paris

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Chloé Perrier

American Divas in Paris

The Triad, NYC, September 8, 2012

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Chloé Perrier

Jazz vocalist Chloé Perrier, begowned in a sparkly dress and a flowery headdress that made her resemble a lovely fairy godmother, offered up a show at The Triad devoted to four American singers who found success in Paris: Blossom Dearie, Helen Merrill, Eartha Kitt, and Josephine Baker. Actually, the focus was on the songs they had performed, without any attempt to capture their styles (the charming brunette pointed out that she couldn’t since two of them were blondes and two of them were Black).

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With her somewhat fractured English and her tendency to burst out in unexpected giggles, she seemed at times to be channeling her countrywoman Liliane Montevecchi.
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The show was somewhat unfocused given that she offered little biographical information about any of the divas; she was not even sure why Merrill recorded in French (she mentioned that several times and turned it into a bit of a running joke). She also attempted to create an atmosphere as if we were in her Parisian atelier, which allowed her to remove her shoes halfway through the program and to toast the audience. This second theme blended well with her casual style and warm personality.

Perrier possesses a lovely, layered soprano that she has tremendous fluid control over. Her playfulness is present in both her singing and her patter. She projects her lyrics in both French and English with clarity and some feelings. Selections ranged from “Je Cherche un homme” to “C’est Magnifique” to a delicious “Lorsque tu m’embrasses” (aka “Just Squeeze Me”) to “C’est si bon.” Throughout, the singer received excellent support from two superior musicians: Hyuna Park on piano and Jim Robertson on bass. For a few numbers, they were joined by Amadis Dunkel (Park’s husband) on trombone. The four of them clearly know and adore each other; unlike the shows where it seems that the singer had met the instrumentalists just a few minutes before showtime. They seemingly shared some secret jokes and enjoyed surprising each other with a flourish here and a tricky rhythm there.

The one major problem with the show was its predictability.
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Almost every number began with Perrier singing several verses of the song, followed by an instrumental solo by one or more of her musicians, and then a return to the singer for two or so more verses. There’s nothing wrong with this on occasion, but the constant repetition led to a certain dullness and monotony. A mix-up of patterns would have certainly enlivened the show.

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."