- Written by Super User
Chanteuse Yvonne Constant was in a particularly playful mood in the first of a three-night return (Nov. 8, 9 and 15, 2006) to Danny’s Skylight Room with her flavorful show “La Chanson Realiste: Paris in the Twenties.”She bantered amusingly with her skillful pianist and musical director Russ Kassoff, moved about the stage saucily and joked about what she would not sing. But mainly it was her sophisticated performance of a repertoire of numbers that captured the essence of French music hall performers and their songs that Constant molds into her own special brand. She is somewhat of an icon, as nobody is doing what she is to keep the genre of music alive in the United States.
What I wrote for her first go-around at Danny’s still pertains: Constant smoothly takes us on an excursion through a variety of songs of love, all delivered with the charm and intelligence that characterize her style. Understated, she allows the music to take center stage, save for her pithy, relaxed commentary, which is crisply entertaining and informative. For example, she speaks of having heard a recording of a singer whom she found off-pitch. Then she realized it was Marlene Dietrich.
She notes that with the Dietrich legs, looks and voice, who cares whether she was on or off pitch. As a matter of fact, Constant has attractive legs too, and when she crosses them while seated on a stool, she makes a marvelous picture that adds to her overall chic impression and tasteful sexuality that she brings to the songs that require such appeal. Her foray into the kind of music popular in France during he 1920s and early 1930s seems knowledgeable, as when she harks back to the song “Mon homme,” which was originally in French but subsequently became known in the United States as “My Man.” Constant pours feeling into the original conveying the heartache of difficult love. She reaches forward in a digression to capture the spirit of Edith Piaf without attempting to compete, but performs with warmth and appreciation for what Piaf brought to the international music scene.
I have heard and reviewed Constant on various other occasions, but at the moment she appears at the height of her art form, and in enviable, soulful command of her material, with her voice capturing the feeling we associate with our ideas of what a French chanteuse should be. Constant belongs in thes elect cabarets of New York and elsewhere and anyone who wants to savor the authentic should not miss her. Bookers take note. Her latest stint at Danny’s includes a remaining performance on Wednesday,
November 15, at 9:15 p.m. at Danny’s Skylight Room, 346 West 46th Street. Reservations: 212-265-8133.