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Rachelle Garniez & The Fortunate Few


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Eclectic jazz, with touches of cabaret. Offbeat.

Status:

Most recent release, Who's Counting (2015)

See also:

Rachelle Garniez's site

Comparisons:

Edith Piaf, Astrud Gilberto, Jane Siberry, Maria Muldaur, Victoria Williams, Ten Wheel Drive, Rickie Lee Jones

Covers/own material:

Own, occasionally co-writes

General comments:

Nostalgic, romantic jazz with cabaret touches. Wry stories set to cool music. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

When I first heard the Crazy Blood, I was asked whether I concurred with the perception of Garniez's genre as "jazz, with a touch of cabaret." The first time I listened to the CD, it seemed unlike any jazz or cabaret singer with which I am familiar. But on my second listening, some weeks later, it became apparent to me that there are elements of both genres in her music—but these are only part of an eclectic, offbeat, imaginative, and unique mix. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Recommended first album:

Any

Recordings:

  • Serenade City (1997)
  • Crazy Blood (2001)
  • Luckyday (2004)
  • Melusine Years (2007)
  • Sad-Dead-Alive-Happy (2011)
  • Greetings From Dreamsville (compilation, 2013)
  • Who's Counting (2015)

Serenade City

Release info:

1997—real cool records, PO Box 606 Prince Street Station, NYC, NY 10012, U.S.A.—31775

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Rachelle Garniez—vocals, accordion
The Fortunate Few:
     Rob Thomas—violin
     Joe Ruddick—piano, keyboards, saxophones & flexatone
     David Hofstra—bass, tuba & snaps
     Phil Leone—drums & percussion

Guest artists:

Clay Ruede—cello
John Diaz—percussion samples

Produced by:

RG & Joe Ruddick

Comments:

Rachelle Garniez and the Fortunate Few make cool retrojazz with smart lyrics. This is laidback music, but the lyrics makes sure it doesn't lack bite.
     "Spike Heel" retreads the "Pink Panther Theme" nicely and "Grasshopper" gives the old tale of the ant and the grasshopper a new spin. All in all a very nice album. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Crazy Blood

Release info:

2001—real cool records, P.O. Box 606 Prince Street Station, New York, NY 10012, USA—31776

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

More than most artists I have written about for the Guide over the years, the rating on this particular dimension depends on how one defines one's terms. This album is certainly not "ectophilic" in the traditional sense, but viewed on its own terms, it is immensely enjoyable listening. I give it a high priority score. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Group members:

Rachelle Garniez—vocals, accordion, banjo, bells & whistles
The Fortunate Few:
     Joe Ruddick—piano, organ, wurlitzer, baritone sax
     Stew Cutler—guitars, harmonica, lap steel
     Catherine Popper—acoustic bass on 5 tracks
     Dassi Rosenkrantz-Cabo—electric bass
     Barbara Merjan—drums & percussion
     Pam Fleming—trumpet & flugelhorn solos
     Guido Gonzalez—trumpet
     Dan Levine—trombone
     Stephan Smith—fiddle
     Cid Scantl—ebury, Paul Clements, Yuko Ichioka—background chorus
     Sylvester Schneider—yodels
     Ronnie Johnson—kalimba
     Walker Stevenson—bells & stuff
     Halloween Boy Toy—vox & guitar on 1 track

Produced by:

Rachelle Garniez

Comments:

Since I have never heard Garniez's first album, I have no idea how that one and this one compare and contrast. Perhaps the former had more jazz and cabaret style songs in it, leading to the Ectophiles' Guide's first conclusions about how to place this artist on the genre map. But the current album displays a wide variey of genres, all of them well done.
     There is a lot of offbeat storytelling in Garniez's songs; while I have not heard anything by Jane Siberry in several years, an analogy between Garniez and the reigning "queen of quirk" is hard to avoid. On the aforementioned genre map, she runs the gamut on specific tracks,from retro jazz and cabaret, to blues-influenced, to Latin, to zydeco (the latter should perhaps have been figured from her Cajun-sounding name), to various others. I was reminded at various times, of various other artists, including Victoria Williams, Maria Muldaur, and the hipster sensibility in the early albums of Rickie Lee Jones; as well as Ten Wheel Drive, Genya Ravan's jazz-rock band of the early '70s which, like Garniez, used a lot of brass.
     In short, this quirky, delightful album is an ideal change of pace for just about anyone. If you're going to throw caution to the winds, this is the one to do it with. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Luckyday

Release info:

2004—Old Cow Music—OCM1002

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Rachelle Garniez—vocals, accordion, claviola, xylophone, acoustic guitar, piano

Guest artists:

Matt Munisteri—guitar, electric guitar, lap steel, banjo
Joe Ruddick—piano, wurlitzer, alto sax, baritone sax
Pamela Fleming—trumpet
Jacob Garniez—French horn, orchestra bells
Dave Hofstra—bass, tuba
Barbara Merjan—drums, percussion, castanets
Wade Schuman—harmonica
Alison Young—ukele, harmony vocals

Produced by:

Rachelle Garniez

Comments:

A unique mix of cabaret and American, folksy and whipsmart and bombastic and heart-wrenching by turns (and sometimes all at once). This album is all over the place and yet guided by Rachelle Garniez's rich voice and energy. She and her band draw influences from everywhere and all styles of music, leaving the listener feeling she's on shifting ground—except the vocals and energy unifies it, and an odd inclusive kind of sensible intelligence infuses it. Bouncy, pushy, over-the-top—what you'll probably remember most fondly about this album is its playful energy. (sophiagurley@hotmail.com)


Thanks to Sophia Gurley, stjarnell@yahoo.com, and Mitch Pravatiner for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2016-07-21 12:29:03.
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