Orchestre National de Jazz Daniel Yvinec ‘The Party’ (Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi) 4/5

Orchestre National de JazzHere is an interesting concept form the latest incarnation of the French national jazz orchestra, otherwise known as ONJ. Take a series of classic pop songs/instrumentals, rework them in a big band setting and then present them within the inner sleeve conceived as a collection of singles with art cover to compliment them in the vein of a mythical session from the Studio Vogue. In actual fact, the album was recorded in two sessions, partly in New York under the leadership of Michael Leonhardt who, among others, has worked with David Byrne and Brian Eno, the Dap Kings and Dr. John and Donald Fagen and Caetano Veloso.

A typically creative and stylish French effort, then, and equally with some surprising musical covers. These include from a French perspective an excellent instrumental take on Jean-Claude Vannier’s (he of Serge Gainsbourg collaborations and early 1970s soundtrack compositions and arrangements) ‘Je m’appelle Géraldine’, a lovely version of the main soundtrack music to François Truffaut’s ‘400 Coups’ (400 Blows). The eclecticism of the repertoire is exemplified by the inclusion of two 1980s pop classics ‘Everybody’s got to learn sometime’ and Talking Heads ‘Once in a lifetime’, both of which have new life breathed into them. For a left-field winner, the interpretation of cult singer Shuggie Otis’ ‘Rainy day/Strawberry letter’ will be a favourite. Of course no French-based formation could ignore the early work of Serge Gainsbourg himself and the album begins with a take on ‘Requiem pour un con’.

Tim Stenhouse