More than just retro, Manhattan’s Fleur Seule embodies a touch of class and sophistication that helps to bring the music of the Swing Era days of Old New York, the feel of Paris during World War II and the tropical beat of Puerto Rico. All of this can be heard on the group’s latest album, “Standards and Sweet Things.”
Perhaps what will get listeners’ attention the most is the ease with which the group pulls off each style turn. Every song on “Standards and Sweet Things” is an authentic-sounding tribute to jazz decades gone by. The songs inspire dancing and dressing typical of the 1940s. This immersion in jazz tradition is accomplished by the talented singers and musicians that comprise Fleur Seule.
About Fleur Seule
Considered Manhattan’s very own 1940s jazz band, Fleur Seule (pronounced “fler sull”) is led by Allyson Briggs. Briggs is considered “The Glamour Girl of Jazz,” but listeners should focus on her singing, after appreciating the Marilyn Monroe-ish style that graces the album’s covers. Brigg’s voice is smooth and soft, with a surprisingly crisp enunciation. A polyglot with the ability to speak four languages and to sing in seven, Briggs is expressive in any language. Listeners will hear this ability on classics like “Piel Canela” and “La Vie En Rose.”
In addition to Briggs, Fleur Seule is constituted of Andy Warren on trumpet – – Warren also arranges and serves as musical director; Jason Yeager on piano; Michael O’ Brien on bass; Paul Francis on drums; Richard Miller on guitar; Ivan Llanes on percussion, and Martina DaSilva, Vanessa Perea and Marg Davis on background vocals.
Those who have hired the band to play have not been disappointed. Representatives from the Rainbow Room declared the band “One of our all-time favorites.” And Michael Feinstein considers Fleur Seule, “One of the most incredible talents out there today! … must see!”
Fleur Seule can boast of sold out shows at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, The Friar’s Club and the Birdland Jazz Club. In addition, the band is participating in a five-year residency as the house band of Tavern on the Green.
At times, the band size of Fleur Seule ranges from two to 13 members, depending on the kind of ambiance the group needs to create. Flexible and multi-talented, Fleur Seule is a must-hear. Two songs that must be heard to be appreciated are “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy.” Of course, “La Vie En Rose” and “Zou Bisou Bisou” are also fabulous renditions, but then, there are no bad songs on this recording.
“Taking a Chance on Love” by Fleur Seule
The entire soundscape is spry and bouncy. The feel of the instrumentation underscores the song’s theme. Briggs’ delivery is quick and infused with vocalese that in some ways is unexpected in its veracity. All the while the bass bounces and thumps and supports the entire instrumentation. The song is fun, fast and easy to follow. The short and sweet approach adds to the kinetic fun that Fleur Seule exudes on this recording.
“Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” by Fleur Seule
This classic, often heard sung by Ella Fitzgerald, is proof that a song’s theme need not be serious for the jazz to be superior. Briggs’ delivery is playful without being juvenile. The tune develops a swaying feel that allows audiences to engage with the fun lyrics about dessert. That the band can make this light, and delightful song, serious jazz is an accomplishment. Often, jazz with its different movements and sub-genres, is taken seriously. Here, Fleur Seule shows audiences how to apply the techniques of traditional jazz to a fun track.
Fleur Seule is a genuine approach to jazz in a retro package that manages to avoid clichés.