Raquel Bitton

Sings Edith Piaf

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Music fans of the current generation who aren't familiar with the legendary French torch singer Edith Piaf should automatically go to track 13 here, where Raquel Bitton (a modern day French torcher who has dedicated much of her recent career to the music of Piaf) engages us in a tremendous version of the familiar "La Vie en Rose." As with all the songs here, she mixes English (with a French accent) with French, and this particular arrangement is sparse and beautiful, featuring a soft trio accompaniment and a beautiful opening trumpet solo, followed by a muted trumpet harmony once the vocal comes in. Not that she needs many gimmicky effects to enhance the magic of big band-influenced French jazz from the 1940s and 1950s, but Bitton's husky, sensuous voice comes at us on the opening cut, "I Shouldn't Care," with the crackle and pop of an old phonograph record. You don't even have to speak French to find swaying romances like "The Gypsies' Path" and folksy gems a la "The Lovers of Teruel" fascinating. Bitton brings old Paris alive quite beautifully with Bob Holloway's lush arrangements. No matter how much time goes by, the fundamentals of romance still never fail to engage the musical heart.

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