Reviews and Responses to the Recordings

Reviews of our live performances and classroom programs are posted under Concerts and Classroom menus.

By the Riverbank: Jazz Fauré 2

Jean-Michel Nectoux, biographer and editor of the works of Gabriel Fauré, Institut de recherche sur le patrimoine musical en France.
Reviewing both Jazz Fauré albums, he writes:
J'écoute vos disques avec grand intérêt ; je trouve les arrangements excellents, comme les divers instrumentistes : ils ont un grand sens musical ! Le plus étonnant est Sean Harris que j'aime beaucoup, belle voix, beaucoup de sensibilité chez ce géant et un français parfait ! J'aime les titres que vous chantez à l'unisson avec Sean ; l'idée de Au bord de l'eau en duo est très logique. ...Je ne suis pas choqué par les versions en anglais, c'est autre chose et plus naturel pour les chanteurs et le style de la musique. ...Dans le style jazz j'aime beaucoup la voix grave de KT McCammond.
I listened to your albums with great interest. The arrangements are excellent as are the various instrumentalists : they bring great musical sensibility. Sean Harris is amazing. I like him a lot; what a beautiful and sensitive voice from this giant; impeccable French. I love your duets in unison with Sean; the idea of Au bord de l'eau for two is very logical. ... I'm not at all shocked by the English versions; it's a different thing, more natural for the American singers and fits the style of music. For the jazz stylings, I like very much KT McCammond's deep voice.
Rose Marie Chisholm, Principal Lecturer, Vocal Studies, University of North Texas College of Music
What a great follow-up to the first CD! I teach French diction to jazz singers as well as performers and future teachers, and I have long told my students that Ici-bas would make a great jazz tune—now they can hear it for themselves as Here on earth. I loved the variety of the arrangements. Congratulations!
Nadine Deleury, principal cellist for Michigan Opera Theatre
As a French classically-trained musician, I was intrigued by the title of the first Jazz Fauré Project CD. I liked it so much I purchased a few more copies and gave one to a professional singer who specializes in French mélodies. Would he like this daring version of Fauré's songs? The next day he told me how much he had enjoyed his present! The new CD By the River Bank now in English is a nice companion to the first one, with the same energy and creativity in the rhythms and arrangements. Fauré's music is definitively there with a tasteful American twist. The whole CD, just like the first one (Au Bord de l'Eau) is highly enjoyable. You will find yourself listening to it over and over again and maybe wanting to discover the original version some time!

R. L. Eastline, writer
A well-conceived concept becomes even more successful. This original-cast album has all of the joie de vivre of its French-language predecessor plus that rewarding extra in its use of a more familiar listening format. Can't really ask for more.

The Jazz Fauré Project: au bord de l'eau

Detroit Free Press, Mark Stryker, 10/20/2006
Claudia Hommel, a sweet-voiced chanteuse born in Paris, raised in Detroit and now residing in Chicago, has recorded an alluring CD in which she and vocalist Sean Harris reinterpret songs by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) accompanied by Chicago jazzers.
It's a rewarding concept, ...Pianist Dennis Luxion's arrangements honor the composer's proportioned melodies and impressionist harmony but also open the forms for improvisation.

Neil Tesser, Co-host, "Listen Here!", the public-radio jazz review

In this ambitious and fascinating project, Fauré's melodies now fit comfortably in a 21st-century cabaret or jazz club, as well as the recital hall for which they were first composed....
You won't find a better guide to the music of Fauré—to most anything French, for that matter—than Claudia Hommel, Chicago's homegrown chanteuse. ...As her voice twines with that of Sean Harris—Hommel's male counterpart, a throaty tenor whose full embrace of this material deserves special mention—they make the music sparkle, with insouciance and yes, with joie de vivre.

Listening to the album, I'm in my own little jazz club and even whistling along. It’s a joyous, positive experience!
Barbara Wanke, Chicago

Quite a production, indeed. The music with the varied accompaniments definitely takes on a layer of coloration that's appropriate to the project. What was impressive is the naturalness of the approach; there seemed to be a found logic just waiting to be released. I admire your skill ...and salute you for the striking accomplishment.
Richard L. Eastline

J’ADORE votre Fauré CD, s'il s'usait à force d’être écouté, il le serait! Quelle créativité et bon gout! La voix de Sean Harris est magnifique, avec tant de couleurs et styles differents. Votre français à tous les deux est parfait et très bien articulé. Bref un vrai chef-d’oeuvre! J’en ai acheté 2 samedi mais il m’en faut plusieurs autres. Bravo à tous.
I ADORE your Fauré CD; it may just get worn out from repeated listenings! What creativity and taste! Sean Harris's voice is magnificent, with such a range of colors and styles. Your French, both of you, is perfect and so well articulated. In brief, a real masterpiece. I bought two copies last week but need several more.
Nadine Deleury, principal cellist for Michigan Opera

A fun mix of cabaret, jazz, and Fauré
For all who have fantasized about jazzing up art songs, try this CD of a group who has done it. The singing is cabaret-influenced light jazz style, while the rhythm section plays straight-ahead jazz in very witty and delightfully clever arrangements.
CDBaby review by Rose Marie Chisholm (University of North Texas)

Romance Language: French songs for lovers

Great performances, classy production (loved the booklet with lyrics, too)
I bought Claudia's most recent album Romance Language and have thoroughly enjoyed it!
John Blegen, former director (retired), Glenview (IL) Public Library

My country owes Claudia a debt of gratitude for bringing the best of French songs to the American public. Her new album merits praise and thanks. It consists of some great tunes, having crossed the Atlantic to reappear in the city of Chicago with so much charm. To emerge in a place bathed in so much music, from jazz to classical, from pop standards to frenetic rock, and come out clear-voiced and pure is nothing short of miraculous.
Claudia brings a unique “swing” to these songs that rarely knew such tempos at their birth. “Bravo” for her wonderful arrangement of La Seine. “Bravo” equally for Que reste-t-il de nos amours [I wish you love], J’attendrai, Mon amant de Saint Jean and the excellent Mon manège ò moi. The list continues: Lydia and Le Chaland qui passe [Tell me that you love me] with its remarkable interlacing of the original Italian. Cerisier rose et pommier blanc [Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White] is a little masterpiece! Its first interpreter André Claveau, now going on 86 years, would be thrilled to hear it.
Pierre Saka (author of the Larousse encyclopedia of French popular song through its great hits. Click here for Pierre Saka's commentary in French.

Those who remember Germaine Montero and Juliette Greco will be rewarded by this recital, as will those who have no memories of those mid-century chanteuses. Paris born Claudia was raised in America and is now a Chicagoan, fortunate because these performances also feature violin virtuoso John Frigo. Along with accordion and rhythm section they perform a bilingual bi-national program ranging from the serious to the jazzy, with Parisian touches. The lighter numbers are especially felicitous. The liner notes provide full translations. All in all, a very pleasant hour.
Art Hilgart for Broadway Revisited (on national public radio)

I knew many of the tunes and it put me in a real good mood. It made me decide to slip a glass of wine.
Anne Votava, a fan in her 80s

In this vein, read a young husband’s true romance story:
My wife Shirley and I attended a Valentine's Day dinner where you performed, and appreciated your talent immensely. Shirley decided to purchase your Romance Language CD, and we listened to your singing all the way home.

roses (34K)

About halfway there, Shirley announced that she wanted to take a hot, rose-petal bubble-bath before going to bed. Once we got there she took a single rose from the bouquet I had given her earlier and drew her bath. While the tub filled she put your CD on once more so she could listen to your vision of Paris while she soaked in warm scented water. As she settled into the water I brought in several candles, placed them around the tub, and lit them. With a gentle kiss I turned out the light and told her to enjoy herself.

While she languished in the aura of Paris upstairs, I quickly went to work in the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with a glass of chilled white wine, melted dark chocolate, and fresh strawberries for dipping, all placed on a silver serving tray garnished with more rose petals. Shirley's bathing experience was now complete, and she savored the sensations while serenely soaking in your musical talents.

When the water finally cooled she left her bath and blew out the candles. Trailing a delicate scent of rose petals she brought the silver tray to our bedroom where I was waiting with my own glass of wine.

The rest of our Valentine's evening, however, will only be shared between each other…
David and Shirley—Aurora, IL

Paris in the Jazz Age

Claudia brings humor and emotion to the immortal texts. Je Suis Swing is over 60 years old but in Claudia's voice, it is the song again of a young girl, elegant, fresh, supple and candid. Forgive me if I linger on Je Suis Swing, with which I have fallen in love. I've been listening to it again and again and sincerely hope everyone else does the same.
Pierre Saka (Editions Larousse)


We see through Claudia the profile of an impassioned heart in search of an immortalized past. I could enter a Paris which few of us really know, there in the piano bar ...where Claudia serves as guide to the heart of all Paris.
Owen Leroy, Gazette Francophone (Chicago)

A lovely montage of post-war Paris, reflecting its enormous influence on cabaret music today. Claudia takes us for quite a tour of Pigalle and its complex human menagerie, and Java gives a delectable taste of that exhilarating musical genre… Barbara is a chilling paean to the horrors of war. Yet, one of the most effective and tearful numbers is Autumn Leaves, featuring Johnny Mercer's lyrics alternating with its original French incarnation, highlighting the tender and fragile emotive qualities of her voice. (The album includes a great insert with informative commentary and translations.)
Keith Meritz for Cabaret Scenes

A great, clever & poignant CD. I loved loved LOVED Autumn Leaves—Wow—.
Joan Krause, actor-singer