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Madeleine Peyroux radiant, romantic at Jazz Alley
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Madeleine Peyroux radiant, romantic at Jazz Alley

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Madeleine Peyroux
April 16
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley


It's no surprise that when Madeleine Peyroux stepped onstage for the second of back-to-back performances just after 10 o'clock on April 16, every seat at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley was spoken for, as an artist of her caliber in such an intimate setting was bound to pack them in. The jazz-folk artist, who was raised on both sides of the Atlantic - in Paris and the U.S. - was in top form as she flowed through a set of love songs, blues numbers, and soft pop standards.

Peyroux began with a delightful rendition of "I Hear Music," a Burton Lane-Frank Loesser classic most famously sung by Ella Fitzgerald. She then moved on to the swingy "Don't Wait Too Long," a fan favorite from 2004's Careless Love album. Another popular tune from that recording came next, a cover of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," which she introduced as a song with references to the Gay romance between French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine.

This was a chattier Madeleine Peyroux than the one from her previous Jazz Alley run several years ago. She was either shy or moody then, in contrast to her witty interactions with the audience on Friday. When her pianist-organist Gary Versace made an otherworldly noise, she asked "Now, where did we just go, Captain?" then quickly answered the question herself with, "Somewhere I've never been to before."

While Peyroux's somewhat frumpy appearance - dressed in matching black pants, shirt and vest with a lazy ponytail - made her seem older than 37, her perky, suave vocals were that of a graceful ingénue. She hit the high notes when she needed to and sunk to beautiful lows with total ease, like on a saucy version of Bessie Smith's "Reckless Blues."

"Dance Me to the End of Love," her most notable single, was met with loud whistles from guests seated throughout the two-tiered venue. Many couples could also be seen holding hands or glancing at each other with twinkling eyes. "J'ai Deux Amours" was sweetly caressed by Peyroux's fluent French chops, like a youthful Edith Piaf without the baggage.

Interestingly, Peyroux omitted two standouts from her resume, "Between the Bars" and "La Vie en Rose." But on this night, when the Athens, Georgia native dazzled from start to finish, it only gave us more reason to appreciate the opportunity of seeing her in a small club. Hence, the remaining sets on her four-day residency at the Jazz Alley were at capacity.

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