BWW Reviews: AUTOUR DU MONDE by Paris Chansons Celebrates Joyous Music From Many Countries
Los Angeles is a melting pot made up of people from around the world, most looking to settle here to enjoy the great weather, to be with their families, or perhaps to live their dream on breaking into the entertainment industry. Paris Chansons is an international music group made up of talented musicians and singers from Ukraine, Russia, France, Morocco, Israel, Germany, Queens and Las Vegas, who have banded together to present some of the world's best music to appreciative audiences in Los Angeles.
The group regularly appears at the Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood and at the Riviera 31 Lounge at Sofitel in West Hollywood. Their latest show AUTOUR DU MONDE was just that, a trip around the world through passionate music in French, Russian, Italian and Hebrew presented on Tuesday, August 26 at 8pm at Sofitel.
I first heard three members of the group (Julia and Jacob Kantor and master violinist Endre Balogh) when I attended the play Lost in Lvov during the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Their music was a big part of that play in which the audience was taken back to Russia through the eyes of three generations of women. Being of Russian and Polish descent myself, I grew up hearing Eastern European music and was so intrigued, I decided to attend their show to hear more.
The group is led by Julia and Jacob Kantor, she born in Ukraine and he in Moscow. Both lived/studied in France so the main focus of the group is on French music with lots of international twists. Their lovely harmonies and obvious great love and respect for each other are apparent in each of their duets. Julia is especially adept at selling her songs and encouraging the audience to join in the fun. The two other singers are Max Cohen, born in Morocco and raised in Israel, and Jean-Louis Darville who is originally from Paris and oozes sex appeal. All four of these talented singers bring true joy to the stage, sharing their love of music as well as their beautiful voices as they sing heartfelt musical memories from places they love.
One of the more endearing songs of the night was sung by Darville about a ticket puncher on the Paris Metro. And while I did not understand all the words, it was very apparent what story he was telling as he acted out the lyrics, complete with tossing the punched out ticket holes as if they were Tinkerbell's fairy dust. What a joyous celebration of an everyday Parisian's life, sung in the raucous tempo of the many Metro trains passing him by!
Almost every one of the 21 songs performed was upbeat and seemed to be an audience favorite as many sang along. Perhaps many in the audience are regulars, enjoying a chance to socialize with their fellow compatriots and celebrate the music from their home country. Perhaps some are travelers staying at Sofitel who overhear the music and came in to join in the fun. Either way, a good time was had by all.
It was amazing to see the range of cultures represented in the Sofitel audience. To my right sat several Francophiles from Paris (and enjoyed getting to speak French with them as best I could), and on my left was a woman from Leningrad struggling to communicate with me in English. We had a lot of fun getting to know each other and talking about our world travels.
Besides French and English, I also overheard conversations around the lounge in Hebrew, Yiddish, Persian, Spanish and Italian. Everyone was there to enjoy the music and each other. There were no fights, just lots of eating, drinking, clapping, dancing and singing. What a great experience being with people from all over the world, all getting along and celebrating life together for a few hours.
If you plan to attend one of their future shows at the Sofitel, arrive early to get the best seats and enjoy the "happy hour" prices on the tapas and cocktails from 6-8pm with drinks from $8-$10 and tapas from $3-$6. Four hour validated parking at Sofitel is $8, with admission to the show $10 in advance (via their website) or $15 at the door. The place was packed the night I attended with lots of selfies being taken to commemorate the event. This was one show where you were not asked to turn off your cell phones!
Go to www.parischansons.com to find out more about the group, sign up for their email list, hear samples and buy your tickets in advance at the discounted rate. Paris Chansons will be performing their signature show "Moulin Russe," an unforgettable concert of French and Russian music, on Tuesday, October 21st at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.
Here is a video clip of one of their recent shows so you can experience the joy displayed in their performance: http://youtu.be/FIVcuk0WlKI
The group is made up of the following talented performers:
JULIA KANTOR: Vocals
MAX COHEN - Vocals
JEAN-LOUIS DARVILLE - Vocals
JEFF LAMS - keys
ENDRE BALOGH - violin
ADAM COHEN - bass
BRAD BROSE - Gypsy Jazz guitar
JACOB KANTOR - guitar
DAVE TULLS - drums
And as Julia said, you might not be able to afford anything in the shops on the Champs-Élysées, but you can certainly celebrate its music performed by Paris Chansons.
Photos by Csilla Balogh
Dave Tulls, Jacob Kantor, Julia Kantor, Max Cohen
Adam Cohen, Dave Tulls, Jacob Kantor, Endre Balogh, Julia Kantor
Playing to a packed house at Sofitel
Jean-Louis Darville, Max Cohen, Dave Tulls, Endre Balogh
Julia Kantor, Jacob Kantor