Nostalgic Contemporary Twists

A few weeks ago, I was washing the evening dishes and listening to Adele’s latest album and I started to wonder how many other recording artists are experimenting with this same nostalgic, jazz-influenced blues, something that’s obviously pop music but with a contemporary twist – somewhere between the Brill Building sound and jazz/blues singers such as Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.   Amy Winehouse and Norah Jones  were obvious candidates, and Madeleine Peyroux has produced five albums well worth listening to.  But who else is out there?

So as soon as I finished the dishes, I wandered over to the computer to browse the library’s website.  After a few clicks here and there I learned that this mix of nostalgia with a contemporary twist is an international phenomenon.  Artists in France and Portugal have been busy mixing Jazz/Blues and popular influences with European  folk traditions.  French singer/songwriter Zaz, who has been called the reincarnation of Edith Piaf , is known for her Romani/Jazz influenced music that topped the charts in France and Europe.  Try to imagine Django Rienhardt mixed with Piaf and then swirled together with a punk attitude. Agnès Jaoui is also interested in a hybrid of Romani and French influences but adds rhythms and sounds from the Americas and Iberian countries that cross the lines between Cabaret, Jazz/Blues, and pop music. My last discovery was Mariza, the most famous Fado singer since Amalia Rodrigues, who mixes Fado and infuses it with all of these elements and influences from Mozambique.

Curiosity and the library’s website led me to number of interesting artists and resources available using my library membership.  Unfortunately my experiments were cut short when my children asked me to turn down the music! Kids these days!!

-Phil B.

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