Conjuring the atmosphere of Parisian cabaret in Barrio Logan on Saturday, Camarada offered its entertaining program From Paris, with Love. Artistic Director Beth Ross Buckley sagely brought in vocalist Sacha Boutros and her band to give the vocal repertory center stage, while she and violinist David Buckley added welcome obbligatos to some of the songs.Boutros charmed the ample Bread & Salt audience recounting stories of her performances in Paris clubs, and her varied repertory balanced the familiar and the obscure. On the familiar side, she sang Vernon Duke’s “April in Paris,” Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitter pas,” and Edith Piaf’s “La vie en rose.” Instead of the usual dreamy interpretation of “April in Paris,” Boutros chose a quick foxtrot tempo over a syncopated jazz beat enhanced by Beth Ross Buckley’s exuberant flute descants. And Bouotros’ suave yet ardent “La vie en rose” stayed with me long after the concert was over.
Boutros’ instrumentalists provided plush but propulsive textures that buoyed the vocalist, always immaculately tailored to her mood. A pair of accomplished guitarists, Jon Garner and Joe Amato, could create an avalanche of sound or delicate clouds, and bassist Justin Grinnell provided unusually inventive support.
Jean Drejac’s “Sous le ciel de Paris” was new to me, but this quick, enticing waltz expanded with flute and violin added a festive spirit to the evening. Boutrel brought her infectious energy to Sacha Distel’s “La belle vie,” an early 1960s song that became a signature tune for Tony Bennett in its English language version “The Good Life.”
I wondered what the quintessentially 1940 British song “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” was doing on this program of French music, but a bit of research revealed that it was written in the small fishing village of Le Lavandou in the south of France. Boutros’ quiet understatement proved effective, and Beth Ross Buckley’s bright incantations gave voice to the nightingale listeners usually must conjure on their own.
The band—Garner, Amato, and Grinnell—gave a rousing instrumental interpretation of “Minor Swing,” the Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli gypsy jazz tune. They should have played more!
This program was presented by Camarada on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at Bread & Salt, 1955 Julian Avenue, San Diego.