les chanteurs

Last Sunday night, I was regenerated. Revitalized. Renewed. Revived. Resuscitated. Restored. 

So, sit down, grab a drink, and let Auntie Afton tell y’all all about it… 

I first saw this show advertised on Facebook and yelled to Nick across the apartment something to the effect of “HOLY ****, THIS IS EPIC.” 

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I have seen each of these women perform separately over the last year and each of them, individually, have moved me beyond belief. 

So, what is it that unifies all four of them? From my experience, they are some of the most authentic, organic, present, and impeccable singers I have ever KNOWN of. That includes anyone I’ve heard on the radio, in concert, on TV, on records, etc. 

Also, they’re all a bit nutty in the most wonderful way, of course.

These heavenly muses were supported by Mitchell Long on guitar, Tim Lefebvre on bass, Tony Austin on drums, and Kamasi Washington on tenor saxophone. And what a band they were.

First up to sing was Laura Mace. Laura is an intense performer with a voice that twists and turns around corners you never knew existed. And in a juxtaposition, she touches on vocal choreography and colors from yesteryear with absolutely no effort or thought.  You don’t have to know Laura personally to tell that she sings from experience. I’m not talking performance or vocal technique experience. I’m talking life.

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And there’s something about her voice that strikes a chord with me personally. I think it’s a pop/R&B sensibility from Generation X. I feel brushstrokes of Toni Braxton which just tugs at all my teenage heartstrings. I can’t imagine anyone not identifying with Ms. Mace’s voice in one way or another. P.S. Laura sang the most amazing rendition of Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” which will rip your heart out and smash roses (with the thorns) into it on the floor with some 4-inch, translucent heels. 

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And with that, we’re onto Patrice Quinn! 

Oh Patrice. What a soul on this woman. Even when Patrice is not singing, you can feel her presence in the room. For such a beautiful space cadet, she keeps me so grounded while she performs. I get the feeling that I’m a balloon floating to the ceiling but, she occasionally grabs the string and pulls me back in. It’s a tender, yet quirky voice with soul from deep within. 

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You can’t possibly take your eyes off of her. She’s singing with her whole body. Her hands twist above her head, she jumps up and down while the band is blowing, she giggles at every little nuance….she’s absolutely present on her journey to space and takes everyone along for the ride. And all the while, you don’t even notice that Patrice is one of the most informed jazz singers you may ever hear. Why? She does what so many musicians work their whole lives to do….she let’s go. She lives in the song. She’s not thinking about her intonation, her pitch, her time….she’s just singing us a song, telling us a story and buckling our seat-belts for one hell of a musical experience. 

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And next we move from one galaxy to another with Jessica Jeza Vautor. 

Jessica hails from a small island in the Caribbean called Martinique. I first heard Jessica sing at the Blue Whale in downtown LA with Vardan Ovsepian and Artyom Manukyan. It was the anniversary of my granny’s death that day. For some reason, this year was especially hard for me on this day and I’m still not sure why. I muscled through as best I could as I had in years past….until I heard her sing THISIf you listen closely, you can hear me sob at one point. She looked at me when Artyom started his solo and I can’t exactly put into words what the connection was. She knew immediately. She could feel it. I could see it in her eyes. She knew. 

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Well, she didn’t stop there. This last Sunday she showed yet another side to her wonderful self. She sang, for the most part in French and Creole. Her set brought so much energy and diversity. I wish I knew the names of the songs she sang but, alas I don’t. I can tell you that Jessica creates incredibly lush harmonies within her melodies. I know that sounds odd but, I can’t explain it any other way. I don’t know if she writes her own material but, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. She IS a natural song-writer. 

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And last, but certainly not least, Natasha Agrama. 

Natasha is the latest singer I’ve heard of the four. I officially met her about 3 months ago, actually at a gig she did with Nick at a great vegan spot in Hollywood called Elderberries. It was just her vocals and Nick on vibes. I was so inspired by those little afternoon salons that it led me to start this duo project with Nick. 

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One of my favorite things about Natasha, a part from her honey tone, is her musical taste. She has a knack for finding the organic in synthesized settings. She never over-sings. She carries the intensity in her voice through nimble and clear delivery. Nothing is sugarcoated, no way. It’s all organic and delicious with Natasha. Her song selections were real, straightforward and exciting

This particular show was dreamed up by Ms. Agrama. She initially saw the unity of the other 3 singers and herself as being so true to themselves and impeccable with their voices - authentic and full of love to share. 

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AND GUESS WHAT?! It’s happening again tomorrow night!! This show rejuvenated me and inspired me. How blessed are we to be graced by these songstress’ gifts….again?!

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