Des de Moor
Chanson: The Space In Between
Barb Jungr's superb chanson project includes new translations of Jacques Brel and Léo Ferré by Des de Moor.
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Barb Jungr, dubbed 'Queen of Musical Cabaret' by Time Out magazine, lives up to that epithet with a vengeance on Chanson: The Space in Between. The album, released in June 2000 by Linn Records, is a collection of songs largely inspired by Paris, and also by themes of exile and belonging: French songs make up half the material, and most of them appear in specially commissioned new translations, five of them by Des de Moor.
Barb's lengthy career has encompassed blues harmony trio The Three Courgettes, 1980s pop singles, Perrier-award-winning cabaret excursions, extensive gigging and recording as one half of duo Jungr and Parker, a lengthy association with comic Julian Clary and a three-way collaboration with Mari Wilson and Claire Martin as Girl Talk, but this is only her second solo album.
Chanson, and its predecessor Bare (Irregular), reflect her development into a first class musical cabaret performer who has been favourably compared to Ute Lemper. Barb has for many years brought a text-conscious, mainland European sensibility to her interpretations of Anglo-American material, and experimented with songs by Jacques Brel, Kurt Weill and Edith Piaf, so the current album, for well-respected Glasgow-based jazz/classical indie label Linn, is a natural progression.
Photo: Douglas Gibb and John Haxby
Des de Moor does not appear as a performer on the album but was actively involved at the pre-production stage, suggesting repertoire and consulting as well as translating. Between them, Barb and Des chose both songs that were largely unknown to English-speaking audiences and some well-known songs where the established English versions differed considerably from the original.
Two further songs come from the pen of Léo Ferré, a brilliant and idiosyncratic songwriter well-known in the French speaking world but almost unknown outside it: 'Les poètes' appear in what we believe are the first versions of these songs in English.
Two other songs, Jacques Prévert and Joseph Kosma's 'Les feuilles mortes' (aka 'Autumn Leaves') and Edith Piaf and Marguerite Monnot's 'Hymne à l'amour' (aka 'If You Love Me') could not be used for copyright reasons.
As well as Des's translations, the album includes a powerful version of Brel's late masterpiece 'Les Marquises' by Robb Johnson, Fran Landesman's reworking of Prévert's 'Cri de Coeur' and a version of 'Je ne regrette rien' as sung by Piaf in English. English language songs include Johnson's own superb 'Sunday morning Rue St Denis', a sultry version of Cole Porter's 'I Love Paris' in an innovative new arrangement by Simon Wallace, Yip Harburg's standard 'April in Paris', Elvis Costello's 'New Amsterdam' and an original, 'The Space In Between', co-written by Barb with James Tomalin.
It's a marvellously strong album with a range of interesting material powerfully executed, with simple but effective acoustic arrangements and some great playing from the likes of Wallace, Russell Churney and Kim Burton.
A live show toured extensively in 2000, including a stint at the Edinburgh Festival. Both album and show garnered some critical acclaim, and the album was selected as one of the 2000 jazz albums of the year in the London Times.
Distributed internationally by RMG.
Available from high street and internet retailers or direct from the record company:
GLASGOW G76 0EP, UK
Lyrics: all the lyrics are available on this site
Recordings: index of this and other recordings
About me: an overview of my work
More about Barb Jungr: