Oscar Lalo creates an enchanting amalgam of Jazz and Chanson Française.
The Frenchman who now lives in Montreux, Switzerland. has a charming, elegant approach to singing that he developed after navigating the Parisian cafés of Saint-Germain des Prés, as well as many East Coast Jazz clubs, when he lived in the US.
There's a simple, pure and unaffected feeling to Oscar Lalo's music. Inspired by Django Reinhardt and the Music of Hot Club of France with Stephan Grappelli, as well as French legends Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg, and Michel Legrand, this recording has a heartwarming quality that crosses language barriers. No matter where they reside, listeners will find Lalo's music enchanting, possessing both a sense of humor, and a touch of tenderness.
The French song—or la chanson française—is making a comeback these days. Inspired by legendary performers such as Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, a new generation of singer-songwriters like Oscar Lalo, has embraced the form as a vehicle for their own creativity.
It was at the home of a family friend in a chalet high above above Montreux, Switzerland, the site of the world renowned Jazz Festival. Oscar learned to love Jazz, and met, in person, such legends Kenny Clarke, Herbie Hancock, and the Marsalis Brothers.
The young Frenchman was given two recordings that shaped his music, and life, Oscar Peterson's Nigerian Marketplace, and Keith Jarrett's first solo recording, Facing You. Hearing Jarrett inspired Oscar to study the piano, first classical music, then Jazz.
But it was as a singer that he made his performance debut, at a high school concert benefit for the Polish union Solidarnösc. That was the turning point, where made singing his priority, and used the piano for accompaniment. And that's when he started working small venues, singing his originals.
At the same time, he became a lawyer, he stayed in touch with his muse by working for a firm situated right across from La Salle Pleyel, France's Carnegie Hall. And like Carnegie Hall, he was able to rent a piano room to practice at lunch, every day developing his chops and soon participating in singer/songwriting contests all over France.
In the coming years, he would win many prizes, including recognition from French Regional TV and Radio. While visiting his Montreux friends, he played a demo tape for the owner of Swiss private radio station who liked the music so much that he offered to produce Oscar's album. And when he learned that Oscar was also an attorney, he offered Oscar a job as his legal counsel.
Oscar jumped at the opportunity to live in a country where he already had such close friends and memorable musical experiences.