Camille Bertault comes flying in like a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t seem to want to sound like any other artist and clearly has her own sound. Plus, she sings in French. And she has put words to John Coltrane‘s “Giant Steps” – almost three years ago she came up with a video on Youtube where she imitated Coltrane’s solo on the classic piece note for note with her voice. The new version now appears on her OKeh Records album “Pas De Géant”, French for “Giant Steps”. Also interesting to note: I think this particular track turns out to be the weakest on her album. You might want to describe it as a mélange of Jazz and Chanson. Her lyrics are witty,intelligent, crazy. She plays with her voice which makes you think you’re on a carousel, like on the George Brassens piece “Je Me Suis Fait Tout Petit”.
The way she handles Wayne Shorter‘s “House Of Jade” is also pretty special: overdubbed vocals, lyrics in Portuguese (“Casa De Jade” – she is very popular in Brazil)) and percussion-only accompaniment from the album’s arranger, director, musician Michael Leonhart. Very cool piece this! She sounds like a female Bobby McFerrin on her “Goldberg” interlude – the tempo of her vocalese style is simply breathtaking, as is the piano accompaniment by Dan Tepfer. Change of tempo and style saves this album from becoming too monotonous. There is a sweet version of the Bill Evans anthem “Very Early”, also with new lyrics in French (“La mer brillait mais toi tu avais disparu, disparu trop tôt”).
And yes, you also get the obligatory accordion (Daniel Mille), but not in typical Chansonette fashion, but rather as an accent to the big band-flavored arrangement of Michel Legrand‘s “La Femme Coupée En Morceaux”. There is a lot to explore here, like the accented bass clarinet (Stéphane Guillaume) on the ethereal “Winter In Aspremont”, one of half a dozen original compositions. The album opens with one of those, a love paean to the city of New York, “Nouvelle York”, with bittersweet and lovely lyrics (“Tu te venges et tu m’offres un beau torticolis/Qui m’renvoie illico au statut de fourmi”). Or check out her own “Certes”, a wonderfully flowing piece aided and abetted elegantly by drummer Jeff Ballard. The French and the Jazz sound so natural on this one like it always had been the perfect combination. Bass is played by both Joe Sanders and Christophe “Disco” Minck on the album.
There is a nice Fusion sound, courtesy of Michael Leonhart’s electric keyboard, on “Suite, Au Prochain Numéro” which also reminds me of an intricate, but still highly enjoyable Gil Evans arrangement. She totally lets it loose in eccentric fashion on the album closer “Conne”. My favorite at the moment is an illuminatingly unique, fascinating, soulful take on Serge Gainsbourg‘s “Comment Te Dire Adieu”.
Camille celebrates the release of her album at Café de la Danse in Paris on March 8th.