Emilie Claire-Barlow engages Aeolian audience

Emilie-Claire Barlow has been described as "Canada's incomparable vocal-jazz jewel." Her 2013 Juno award for Vocal Jazz, and May 23 performance at Aeolian Hall support that contention.

Ms. Barlow has been recording since 1998 and has released nine albums in that time. She is well known for her interpretations of tunes from The Great American Songbook of the 30's and 40's, but her most recent success has come in the form of a Juno for her French language album Seule ce soir (Alone Tonight).

Ms. Barlow described to the audience her motivation in making an all-French album as a desire to capture the poetry and beauty of the songs in their original form. Though she is not francophone, it should come as no surprise that she mastered these tunes completely. The daughter of professional musicians, one can deduce that anyone who sings like she does and plays piano, cello, clarinet, and violin, would tackle and succeed at such a project.

For her performance at Aeolian Ms. Barlow ran the gamut of her repertoire. Classics, French songs, interpretations of 60's pop - found on her album The Beat Goes On - and even an Antonio Carlos Jobim song, sung in Portuguese.

Barlow was accompanied by a three piece band. Reg Schwager on guitar, Ross McIntyre on bass, and Kelly Jefferson on sax. The band was stellar and suave in suit and tie.

Barlow is an engaging performer. She is comfortable and inviting with the audience and comes across as genuine.

As one might expect from a performer who cites Ella Fitzgerald as one of her main influences, Barlow is not just a jukebox. Without naming names, there are several female Canadian jazz vocalists who give us the song with their voice. Barlow delivers the song and brings her voice as an instrument. In her styling and interpretations she is adventurous. Her delivery is fluid and her range impressive. When she scats she can sound like a whole horn or string section by herself.

From the countrified jazz of the George Jones favourite, "She Thinks I Still Care," through an exciting interpretation of "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top," to a growling, bluesy "These Boots Are Made For Walkin", Barlow kept the audience in her grip.

Haven't seen her yet? Don't miss her next time she comes to London.

Lyle Goorvich is a a former school teacher, vinyl enthusiast and lover of music.