CHLOE PERRIER & THE FRENCH HEART JAZZ BAND, Petite Fleur
A true musical citizen of the world, French born, NYC based vocal stylist Chloe Perrier has one goal every time she and her French Heart Jazz Band take the stage at clubs throughout Manhattan - to make people happy and transport them away from the chaos and stress of life in the modern world. Drawing from influences like Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, the singer uses her velvety voice, spellbinding style and charming accent to transform any room she plays into a realm harkening back to the golden age of jazz.
Holding court onstage these past three years at venues like Club Bonafide, Corneila Street Café and the McKittrick Hotel, Chloe and her “dream team” of musicians dive deep into a repertoire of French “chansons” and American jazz standards from the 20’s to the 40’s, taking their rapt audiences on a journey back in time for a soul transportive experience she artfully describes as “Gatsby in Paris.” Everything began with a request in late 2016 from the Consulate General of France to do a “Gatsby themed night” to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its residence on Fifth Avenue. Chloe subsequently built a whole show around the concept.
Now, with the release of their full-length album Petite Fleur, Chloe and the band bring their irrepressible charm and continental flair beyond the Big Apple for the first time. The recording is being released and distributed worldwide by the independent label Jazzheads, which signed her after hearing five songs. The October 22 drop of the album will be celebrated with a party and performance at The Cutting Room. Its lead single “Comes Love” and video created by Chloe and Jesse Green are set to come out September 13. That evening, she and the French Heart Jazz Band will be performing a concert that evening at Sunset-Sunside in Paris.
Before moving to New York from Paris six years ago to pursue her dual passions for singing and acting, Chloe had visited numerous times and became passionate about chronicling the lives of ambitious artists like herself for a future documentary. One of the musicians she met with during her interview and began playing with later after she moved there was Japanese American guitarist Akira Ishiguro. When he introduced her to Chilean drummer Rodrigo Recabarren, the chemistry between the three was immediate and she launched her first trio – which ultimately evolved into the French Heart Jazz band, also featuring upright bassist Jim Robertson.
Petite Fleur features soulful, lyrical and briskly swinging performances by Chloe with this core quartet, joined memorably by Australian Jon Hunt on clarinet, and - adding touches of magical retro-romance – French violinist Caroline Bugala. The 12-track collection was produced by Chloe and recorded at Samurai Hotel Studio in Queens by Grammy winning sound engineer Max Ross from Systems Two.
Drawn from favorites among the band’s ever-expanding and evolving repertoire, Petite Fleur includes playful French language re-imaginings of two songs by French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet, “Menilmontant” and “Que Reste-t—il De Nos Amours”; American jazz vocalist Helen Merrill’s seductive and whimsical “Lorsque Tu M’embrasses (Just Squeeze Me)”; the George Shearing-penned, Ella Fitzgerald popularized sexy swinger “Lullaby of Birdland”; the sensual “J’ai Deux Amours,” originated by Josephine Baker; an unexpected high energy romp through the Edith Piaf classic “La Vie En Rose”; the briskly paced “Je Voudrais en Savoir D’Avantage” by French pianist Ray Ventura,” a showcase for Chloe’s quick, rhythmic phrasing; and the “hidden” title track “Petite Fleur,” a Sidney Bichet gem that Chloe recorded in honor of her grandfather.
The album’s English language tracks include the spirited, Django Reinhardt call and response tune “Coquette”; “Guilty,” a song expressing the power and passion of love, originated by Billie Holiday; and the bolero-mambo classic “Sway,” given a touch of international class and sass via Chloe’s French accent.
“What I love about this period from the 1920s to the ‘40s is that the music is really happy, and it brings people great joy when I sing it,” says the singer. “This is a vibe I love to communicate with my audiences. Coeur de Francaise, my first album that I recorded in France before moving to New York, was more romantic and melancholic, based on songs from the 60’s through the 80’s. Petite Fleur is about love and decidedly more upbeat despite having maybe one two melancholic songs.
“The period we are living in is pretty dark,” she adds, “and I like the opportunity to take people away from their problems and help them stay positive, even if just for an hour. People tell me at the end of the show that they feel like they’re in Paris in the 30’s. The challenge is to keep those who have seen the show multiple times engaged, so I am always looking on YouTube or buying old vinyls for unique jazz standards and French chansons from the era. Ultimately, I like the idea that I help people stay positive, even just for an hour.”
Nowadays Chloe performs with these and other musicians in different formats, as a duet to septet in several locations and clubs both in Paris and in NYC at the Zinc Bar, The Iridium, Feinstein's/54 Below, Winter Cabaret festival, Summer Cabaret Festival, Vintage Train Swing Festival, Why Not jazz club, Cornelia Street Cafe, The Manderley and Gallow Green, The Top of the Standard, The Plaza, The Lotte Palace, the Flatiron Room and Fine & Rare. The singer has also performed live on the radio show “Jazzbox” on Radio Aligre, and the French TV show “Telematin.”
“As a little girl growing up in France,” Chloe says, “I fell in love with music and I was listening to old records of Claude Nougaro, Serge Gainsbourg and the musical for kids ‘Emilie Jolie’ all the time. All these years later, it’s a wonderful pleasure to sing for people and provide a type of musical therapy for others the way my favorite music has always been an uplifting and healing force in my life. Club Bonafide and other clubs has been a wonderful ‘laboratory’ for me and my band to try out new material and develop arrangements and a repertoire that helps lift everybody’s moods. Together, we capture a vintage feeling with a modern twist – and were able to take that into the studio and, with Max Ross’ help, make some real magic together!”