Cole Porter in Paris – based on songs by Cole Porter
Léovanie Raud, Marion Tassou, Richard Delestre, Yoni Amar, Matthieu Michard; Orchestre des Frivolites Parisiennes
B Records LBM047 65:00 mins
Staged at Paris’s Châtelet Theatre around Christmas 2021, creator/director Christophe Mirambeau’s show based around the talents of the company Les Frivolités Parisiennes celebrates Cole Porter’s Parisian connections. The live cast album brings together five singers who perform 21 songs in arrangements by five different hands for a band of 12.
The idea is potentially good: Porter studied and lived in Paris, while several of his songs and even show titles – Can-Can and Fifty Million Frenchmen, for instance – have strong Gallic and even specifically Parisian connections (one is called simply Paris). Two songs quote the Marseillaise. But picking songs thematically does not always produce the best selection: not all those picked to tell the story of the composer’s life while living in the French capital are among his best; the style and quality of both the singing and the arrangements, too, are distinctly mixed.
But there are hits along the way: in ‘You don’t know Paree’ the strong-voiced Marion Tassou shows a keen sensitivity to text. Sung by arranger Matthieu Michard, ‘I’m a gigolo’ is a fine piece of late-night sophistication. Léovanie Raud has fun with the jungle-drum rhythms of ‘Find me a primitive man’ – essentially about a woman looking for a bit of rough. Involving all five singers, ‘Most gentlemen don’t like love’ has panache and sells you the lyrics – which are not without touches of bitterness. ‘You’re the top’ is great fun sung by Yoni Amar and Richard Delestre while the intoxicating dance rhythms of ‘Give Him the Ooh-La-La’ gets your toes tapping.