html xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns:st1="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40">
Absynthe is Monsieur Camembert’s first album recorded in studio; a fine, mature and sophisticated spirit. After the release of two live albums, one may ponder both the choice and origin of Absynthe, which comes as a surprise for those who fancy wine and bread to accommodate their fromage.
The Aria Award winning band took up the challenge of producing a studio-recorded album just one year after being acclaimed the best world music album. There are bands whose reputation is built on their live performances and others who excel in using studio technologies, but rare are those who can extract the essential advantages of both without losing an ounce of their spirit.
took two years of hard work for Monsieur Camembert to distil the very best
ingredients of their own genre to produce Absynthe, a mixture of well-known
marinated songs, spiced up with surprising changes of rhythms and flavored with
intoxicating solos. Absynthe brings the joy and enlightenment of a live
concert, while preserving the sound quality of each instrument, each musician
‘sensible interpretations as brought by a studio recording. Some prefer a live
concert or a great CD. Usually it is a question of personal taste, but on
During the concert launch, 17 songs were performed, (including two encore), alternating stories and instrumentals, dramas and romance in an extraordinary journey through cultures, musical influences and rhythms from all around the world. Nothing could prevent the audience to fill up the Basement on otherwise ordinary Tuesday night. Both young and older fans joined in for the celebration, while music connoisseurs and nostalgic had booked a table amongst media people, in front of a multilingual standing crowd ready to swing. The general atmosphere was light and cozy. Dinner had been served and the appetites were teased by a lively selection of great gypsy swing classics from the 50s. Between the main course and desert, was the time Monsieur Camembert chose to appear on stage! Perfect timing, would say French gourmets, who believe a well-done camembert is a meal in itself, never to be missed, unless you’re prepared to commit a sacrilège.
Quick and discreet, was the service of Monsieur Camembert who opened their performance, as in great sagas, with the very last song of Absinthe; ‘A good time was had by all’. This classic introduction by way of great time conclusion came as a promising start and naturally caught the attention of the audience which was wondering what exactly did they missed? An impression reinforced by the musicians who interacted happily on stage as if they already had a ball before the concert; an impression which would only tease the audience’s curiosity further, as would a good camembert tease your appetite before desert.
everybody! Exclaimed Yaron Hallis, lead singer of Monsieur Camembert confirming
that now was indeed the beginning of a good time. Standing at his right hand
was Edouard Bronson, the master juggler tenor/soprano sax, clarinet, and flute
musician. Sitting at his left hand were gathered the talents of accordionist
Svetlana Bunic, the sensible feminine touch, Mark Szeto the expressive double
bass player and
the first song, the band took the audience on a colorful journey of mixed
rhythms and vibrant solos while performing ‘Caravan’ and ‘Odessa Bulgarish’. A
journey of contrasted plays, characters and mixed interpretations became a
voyage through a musical kaleidoscope. Although both tunes are instrumentals,
every musician offered his own interpretation of the melody from classic to
extravagant, as if achieving stunning harmonious discordances. Hard to
describe, if one does not adopt an impressionist perspective. One can
irresistibly be touched by the humor flowing from each instrument voice,
starting with Eddy’s breaking sax solo,
followed by Mark’s grounding double-bass tempo and the melodious picking duo by
Hallis who then lead the public’s attention on the story of ‘The Fat Lady’
followed the instrumental humor. A sad song he composed and wrote about the
tormenting love hesitations of a co-dependant couple.
What could have turned into a drama actually became a comedy, as the sax
instantly took on the role of the fat lady, in an exaggerated slow and bluesy
deep introduction. The audience couldn’t hold their laugh and enjoyment as Eddy stepped down the stage to proceed with his
legendary walk through the audience. A fun diversion, as Yaron was progressing
with his burlesque parody, which contrasted with Svet’ s very
moving accordion solo, soon joined by
for rejoicing spontaneously followed with an unexpected version of the
traditional Jewish song ‘Hava nagila’, starting with unusual rock rhythms.
Yaron Hallis performed the song with an extreme sensuality, while
“Last song before
the break!” announced Yaron Hallis. The perfect time for him to present his
musicians, say a few words about Absynthe, before singing the fidgeting ‘Fuli
Tchei’. This traditional song started as an old
After the break Monsieur Camembert’s quartet was back on stage, ready for another set of surprises and musical celebrations. Berets, hats and Svet’s elegant red borsalino were back on their heads, except for Mark, who left his head free to move, as the music would please. Yaron Hallis offered the audience a new glimpse of Monsieur Camembert’s fashion: a multicolor embroidered black pant and shirt ensemble, as never seen before, and which appeared as a promising introduction to the second set!
The audience was then invited to the sweet madness of ‘Adon Olan’, a traditional Jewish prayer, performed in Monsieur Camembert’s own contrasted style. Starting with a sustained rhythm, the prayer opened as a slow swingy ballad, before changing to a music hall performance, a sensual dance, speeding up suddenly to reach higher cadence. Yaron Hallis remarkably put up with the lyrics at a high-speed level, demonstrating that even praying could be a lot of fun.
The next song was the story of ‘Angelina’, the waitress at the pizzeria, a song by Louis Prima, which Monsieur Camembert performed on many occasions and on a few special shows to pay a tribute to the life of Prima. ‘Angelina’ is always a delightful moment of humor and romance enjoyed by many and that night was no exception. Eddy walked his sax through the public to enhance the fun while Yaron and Svet were having a wonderful singing dialog on stage. One can only regret that no place was left to dance!
this flirty tune, Yaron charmed the public with ‘Kiss of Fire’ in a perfect
Broadway crooners fashion, that would have nothing to envy to Lauren Bacall’s
voice. During the performance, more distance was taken from the emotions, which
added more maturity and maybe a small Latin macho touch. Eddy’s supporting solo
filled the room with joy as
Pelo’, from Boulou Ferré, took everybody to a
world of mix slow and fast tempos. Monsieur Camembert gathered on stage like
the gypsies do around the fire and exchanged looks, smiles and joyful faces as
the audiences doubled in applause. All shared pleasure and admiration, as Yaron
Hallis suddenly had to play his guitar with only four strings. An incident that certainly caught attention the audience and
brought even more dynamism, but the ears were slow to notice any change in the
for romance, was then introduced by Yaron; ‘Can I have you please?’ the classic
quest of the love you know you can’t have. A sentimental dilemma wonderfully
illustrated by the moving solo performance of Mark on double-bass, alternated
by Eddy’s tearing and amusing play. Svet and
Of course the last song awakened the audience’s appetite, which was promptly expressed by sustained ‘encore’. Monsieur Camembert offered ‘Choubi’ and ‘Dark eyes’ to carry on with the feast as if it would never end, as if the band and the audience had been old time friends. Although every performance is a renewed enjoyment and unique feast, Absynthe is the spirit of such moments.
Monsieur Camembert launch night of the album Absynthe was a night of contrasts and infinite pleasures shared between musicians and public. Each musician performance was outstanding, thank to the exceptional sound conditions, and could hardly better illustrate the quality of the recording of Absynthe. The title Absynthe, the green aniseed muse of La belle époque, is also a compliment to times of intense creativity and of artistic talents gathering. The portrait of Aristide Bruant, by Toulouse Lautrec appearing on the album cover, as well as the blue profile of Eddy in the background already illustrate an album of character and sensibility, in various and contrasted colors. One may not believe the book by the cover, but at least Absynthe will bring some of the taste of that evening. So yes, Monsieur Camembert; a good time was had by all!
2rrr 88.5 FM – Sydney
Trampoline – French music program