Ornette – Crazy
(Discograph, VÖ: 02.11.2012)
If someone had told Ornette that one day she would release an album as a singer, she would not have believed it. Up until now she had been – as a brilliant pianist – the one who composed, arranged and accompanied others… Today, with the treasure chest of cosy and sophisticated pop that is her first album Crazy, she can finally shine.
Ornette grew up in a family of artists, actors and singers. After training at the conservatoire, she developed a passion for jazz, its dissonances and improvisations. Having acquired such knowledge, she made her debut on the professional scene at the tender age of 25, playing keys for Alain Bashung, Peter Von Poehl and Arthur H. On the personal front, she was also part of the MOP trio who released in 2004 an instrumental jazz album to critical acclaim, before doing it again four years later, under the Electric Mop moniker.
« I didn’t really ‘work’ on my voice at the conservatoire. When I tried singing for the first time, I felt an unmediated form of pleasure, one that was not in the least cerebral. I realised I couldn’t miss out on it». And so Ornette began to write her first solo songs, mixing bluesy melancholia and catchy pop. She handed over the delicate task of providing her songs with body without weighing them down to Emiliano Turi, her lifelong comrade, who thus became her album’s producer.
Challenge met. Crazy is a stellar and ethereal record that is all about balance: choruses that work their way into the brain and won’t let go, a groove that gets hips moving and chiselled melodies that go straight to the heart, as first single “Crazy” superbly exemplifies. « I wanted this album to be quite silky, but also a little rough. I wouldn’t have it too ‘clean’! » Not surprising when her personal pantheon includes Thelonious Monk, Beck, Jack White, Dusty Springfield and Björk… The result? Brass parts that cast a shadow over the romantic “There’s A Man”, the slightly solemn lyrical urgency of “The Lion and the Doll” and the rattling piano on “Totta’s Unicorn”. An album on a par with offerings by Feist, Kate Nash or The Bird and The Bee, ranking among the best illustrations of a modern, feminine and stylish kind of pop music.
Having (officially) become a singer, Ornette (who chose her name in reference to her own musical roots and as a tribute to the maker of one of her favourite songs, “Lonely Woman”) took to the stage. Noticed as she opened for many acts (Yael Naïm, Cœur de Pirate, Yodelice – on tour and at the Olympia – Camelia Jordana and Jeanne Cherhal), with each live performance Ornette confirms her ease and natural ability to enthral an audience. From the Nuits de Fourvière festival to the Montreal International Jazz festival this year, Ornette does stunt after stunt without worrying about safety nets: she never covers the same song twice and invites a wide array of guests (from Arthur H to a brass orchestra). « When I’m on stage, it feels like I’m improvising night after night. Singing still feels every bit as good: it is such an instinctive and immediate pleasure ».