French quintet Paris Combo recently released their seventh studio album, Quesaco?, via Six Degrees Records, which is also the last album recorded with the group’s singer-songwriter Belle du Berry, who passed away in 2020, following a brief battle with cancer.
The album’s title – Quesaco? – chosen by Belle, is an ancient Provençal expression, which might be translated as “What is all this?,” or “What’s happening?” and lends a charming, old-world nuance to her questions about the mystery of existence.
Made up of Belle du Berry (vocals), Potzi (guitar), Francois Jeannin (drums, vocals), David Lewis (trumpet, piano), Dunoyer de Segonzac (double bass), with Rémy Kaprielan on percussion and vocals Paris Combo formed twenty-five years ago. Their sound, a lush blend of Django Reinhardt-inspired gypsy jazz and Latin music, with exotic and cinematic tints, projects the essence of Paris.
Encompassing 11-tracks, entry points on Quesaco? Include the title track, flavored with voluptuous Latin savors topped by Belle’s deliciously evocative vocals as glowing harmonies inject the tune with depth and dimension.
“Barre espace,” inspired by the space bar on a computer keyboard, rolls out on creamy, undulating textures highlighted by David Lewis’ brilliant trumpet and a sparkling piano. “Premiere guerre” opens on a sleazy bassline and rattling percussion, and then transitions into a sumptuous jazz-laced tune with hints of melodic pop flowing through it. Soft and velvety, Belle’s voice is oh so charming, full of cashmere tonal subtleties.
Low-slung and gliding, “Axe imaginaire” flows on silky-smooth, graceful colors as Belle’s gentle, warm timbres imbue the lyrics with quixotic aromas. Simmering with sultry jazz savors, “Do You Think” rides a bouncy rhythm overlaid by bright horns. With its ebbing and rising harmonics, this is perhaps the best track on the album.
“Parresser par ici,” the final track, delivers a smooth jazz-like ambiance and is highlighted by a light yet glistening guitar. Sighing and misty, Belle’s scrumptious vocals infuse the lyrics with a sense of buoyant imminence.
Wonderfully arranged and brimming with enchanting melodies, Quesaco? underscores the terrific songwriting of Belle du Berry, as well as her alluring voice.