Love is a universal language and Paris Combo confirms that music is as well. The five-piece French band that has garnered global acclaim and an immense following for its unique mélange of colorful cabaret, elegant jazz, multicultural world music and sassy alterna-pop has released their fifth studio album, the appropriately titled “5,” on DRG Records.
It has been since 2004 that Paris Combo released a new album, “Motifs,” which was supported with a concert tour that visited the iconic Hollywood Bowl where they were accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The troupe consisting of chanteuse Belle du Berry, Potzi (guitar), François Jeannin (drums, percussion, vocals), and David Lewis (trumpet, flugelhorn, piano) reunited in 2010 after a four-year hiatus and spent a year writing, rehearsing and rediscovering their hallmark sound. After adding new bassist Emmanuel Chabbey to the lineup at the end of 2011, they returned to extensive touring where they performed new material that evolved into “5” and delivered another memorable show at Hollywood Bowl.
“In 2006, we gave ourselves the luxury of taking a break from touring and recording so each of us could return to his or her individual musical sources – a breathing space to allow inspiration to happen. Four years later, we reunited in a rehearsal studio – in Paris of course – and without even playing our previous repertoire, together we started composing new songs. The group’s chemistry was magic straightaway. Right from the first notes, the chords, the melodies, and the grooves sounded spontaneous and naturally like ‘Paris Combo.’ It was like a reunion with an old friend. The tone was set and we knew we would have fun co-writing our new material and exploring all the different aspects of the group’s identity – the ‘Paris Combo style,’” said du Berry, whose lyrical muse remains love.
On “5,” du Berry ruminates on the crazy extremes of amour sung in her native French: love at first sight, love lost, broken love, the dream of love, the brilliance of love, “volcanic anger” produced by love, love’s persistence and love’s enduring immortality. Behind her alternately aching, playful, graceful, tantalizing, and always alluring vocals, the band, with the assistance of a three-piece string section, sets captivating backdrops and intriguing sound collages constructed from artsy Europop, rambunctious riffs, smoky jazz, charismatic cabaret, swinging grooves, exotic Latin, African and rumba rhythms, and mystical Middle Eastern and gypsy nuances.
Lewis said, “We are thrilled to be releasing ‘5’ in the U.S. We have always felt very much appreciated by audiences there and we are thoroughly looking forward to touring there again. After 15 or so tours, the States are an important part of the group’s story.”
Paris Combo’s story began in the early ‘90s when du Berry, Potzi and Jeannin first performed together in Paris as members of a quirky retro revue before going on to collaborate at the closing ceremony of the Albertville Winter Olympic Games in 1992. Lewis joined the fold in 1994 and the outfit honed their sound playing in cafes and on barges along the Seine. Their self-titled 1997 debut disc arrived as the swing revival was in full bloom and instantly appealed to fans internationally while generating critical praise yet the band’s wide-ranging mix set them apart. The movement multiplied with the release of their sophomore outing, “Living Room,” which went gold in France in 2000. Their third set, “Attraction,” attracted more followers the following year and was followed by a live album in conjunction with extensive concert tours in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia.
Catch Paris Combo live at the following U.S. concert dates (additional dates may be added):
April 19 – Cleveland, OH – Museum of Art
April 20 – Bloomington, IN – Buskirk-Chumley Theater
April 21 – Chicago, IL – City Winery
April 23 – Indianapolis, IN – The Cabaret at the Columbia Club
April 24 – Livermore, CA – Bankhead Theater
April 26 – San Francisco, CA – California Institute of Integral Studies
April 27 – Santa Monica, CA – The Broad Stage
April 28 – Irvine, CA – Soka Performing Arts Center
April 30 – New York, NY – Joe’s Pub
May 1 – Reston, VA – Center Stage at Reston Community Center
May 2 – Brooklyn, NY – Littlefield
May 3 – Boston, MA – Berklee Performance Center