Tatiana Eva-Marie sings in overlapping genres, with a touch of the surreal in how they mix and match and where they take you—French jazz, swing (especially Zazou), old time folk, gypsy, Balkan, Klezmer, New Orleans, occasional standards, and, recently, holiday. The heart of her art is French; where her talents would have gone but for Paris, heaven knows. And on Sunday at Joe’s Pub, she paid tribute with the Avalon Jazz Band to the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt, joined by visiting artists on guitar and violin.
Joe’s Pub is one of the best venues in New York for voices; they are understood there, given the place they deserve. Hers is of the utmost delicacy, not the tinkle of water over stones, the bubbling brook, but something deeper—it dissolves into the music, disperses with absolute naturalness. At times there is an impactful splash—a contrasting guttural or the buzz of a hard z—or an artful hesitation, a toe in the water of the song. She holds the last notes in her mouth, where they linger and fade, into the distance.
It’s entrancing how gesture, posture, and movement punctuate her vocals: one sees dashes and question marks, exclamation points, parentheses, commas, periods, colons, and ellipses. There’s finery in the way she moves, tenderness in her face, expressiveness in her fingers, an honest grounding of the feet. It comes from a place of reserve, without the agitation of “show,” that violation of time to grab attention which drives pop and musical theater and intrudes too often on other genres (though, with her acting skills, she would bring something authentic to the latter). She lets the song go its way, in body and voice.
Gabe Terracciano (violin), Sara L’Abriola (rhythm guitar), and Wallace Stelzer (bass) were joined in the Avalon Jazz Band by two remarkable musicians from Finland and Paris. Olli Soikkeli’s fingertips fell on the strings of his guitar like droplets flicked from a brush. And seeing Daniel Garlitsky on violin was like watching the bow move on its own accord, in sharp and gentle strokes: Yeats’ riddle of the dance applied to music.
The night’s tunes were spry and wistful, serious and yet fun, among them Trenet’s Ménilmontant (which launched Eva-Marie’s career) and Bechet’s Si Tu Vois Ma Mère (“If You See My Mother”—her own was in the house). All was life, wit, and ironic sweetness. This was one of those concerts that came together, voice, music, banter, the material, its shape and interpretation. It lasted as long as it should have, and I wanted more.