Female French Jazz Artists

As the air grows crisp and the sun descends earlier each day, I feel more and more like listening to jazz. Recently, I have discovered several musicians and vocalists, all female and all French, who I wholeheartedly believe are worth sharing. Here they are, in no particular order…

Airelle Besson

One of few female trumpetists to reach so high a standing, Besson began playing this “masculine” instrument at 7 years of age, followed by the violin at age 9. During her youth she studied music at Oxford, followed by municipal conservatories in Paris. Having worked with a variety of musicians from New York trumpetist Ingrid Jenson to guitarist Pierre Durand, her latest solo album Prélude (available on iTunes) was recorded with Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras, which I discovered on the blog Lost in Arles. The album was recorded in Arles.

Visit her website for more information.

Cécile McLorin Salvant

I first heard her Billie Holiday-esque voice on a Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross. Born in Miami to a French mother and a Haitian father, McLorin Salvant began studying classical piano at 5 and singing at 8 years old. At first interested in classical singing and influenced greatly by Sarah Vaughan, she moved to Aix-en-Provence in her late teens to study jazz under musician and teacher Jean-François Bonnel. She has won several awards for her music, and the album WomanChild was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2014.

McLorin Salvant sings in her native French, English and Spanish.

Visit her website for more information.

Véronique Hermann Sambin

Hermann Sambin grew up in Guadeloupe, raised by parents who listened to a lot of international music. She began playing piano as a young girl and singing in French. Singing in Creole came later on, as her parents wanted her to learn French first. At 17 she moved to Paris, and eventually formed a band and found a musical director with whom she produced Ròz Jériko, a “complete success” according to the French newspaper Le Monde. She has performed at festivals all over France and the West Indies. Her latest album, Basalte, was released in 2012.

Visit her website for more information.

If you are interested in discovering more jazz, TSF Jazz is a Paris-based radio station available to stream online. While living in Paris I discovered countless jazz musicians through listening to this station, including Melody Gardot, Krystle Warren and Ibrahim Maalouf, to name just a few.

For a sample of the kind of music they play, check out the album Summer of Jazz 2015 TSF Jazz available on iTunes.

© Jessica’s Franglais 2015

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