Originally from Toulouse, Olivia Maisel is a Franco-American singer who has been based in Montreal for a number of years. A Moment in Time arrived in my e-mail inbox a few weeks ago, and regretting the delay in listening to it compared with the album launch on 7 July, I put it on my ears without knowing anything about the young lady, who is also a music therapist with autistic children in her own right.
The programme includes classic songs such as My Foolish Heart, The Nearness of You, Embraceable You, and Send in the Clowns. Although she is of French origin, Olivia only performs one French song: Que reste-t-il de nos amours? It’s a shame. We feel that she could do magnificent justice to the musical gems of the Grande Chanson Française. And above all, she could take up a niche that has been almost exclusively occupied in recent years by… anglophone singers!
We find what seems to be a selection of the young cream of McGill jazz: Thélonius Garcia on piano, Luc Herrmann on guitar, Alex Le Blanc on double bass and John Buck on drums. Also making an appearance are Sergiu Popa on accordion and the versatile Noémy Braun on cello.
I was pleasantly surprised, because it’s rare to hear such classic vocal jazz in Montreal, a city usually more focused on modern composition. And Olivia’s is not only well done, but with her perfectly balanced voice, it has that caressing, caring sweetness that I like to find in Ontario’s Diana Panton, for example. There’s no flashy flamboyance, just a great deal of sincerity in the economy of effects, and a focus on the beauty of the sound and the projection of the voice. You can tell that Olivia Maisel has the talent to push forward the thrills of the little stories she tells us, but fortunately this is balanced by a great intelligence of style. Classy jazz.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything. So the surprise is all the more delightful. If you like vocal jazz with a warm, intimate feel, you’ll be letting A Moment in Time roll around on a loop at happy hour, and even much later.