The Armenian-born Charles Aznavour was one of France's greatest talents in the postwar era. His popularity with his adopted countrywomen and men lasted from 1950 until the 1980s. Jezebel was one of the first big recordings for Aznavour. Recorded in 1953, it reveals the singer to be not quite in command of his own style of delivery, instead imitating a combination of earlier performers such as Maurice Chevalier, the American Louis Prima, and various calypso singers who were plentiful in Paris at the time. Chevalier and Prima? What a combination. Aznavour, before becoming such a fine ballad singer, was attempting to be a swinger, so he used bits and pieces of Chevalier's accessible vaudeville persona along with the emergent hipsterism of Prima. And it works. Check out "Couches dans le Roin," "Intoxique," with its Grappelli/Reinhardt groove, and of course, the title track, with its faux flamenco intro and comically dramatic melody line. There is also the wondrous "Poker," which is arranged like a Sinatra tune for the French theater and comes off like a conversational Prima tune with its near scat and falling eights in the bridge. This is an awesome record for its pure hedonistic value. Lounge lizards would be well advised to keep an eye and ear out for this baby. Perhaps it should have been called "Aznavour Slums It." ~ Thom Jurek
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