Presented by OLG

Gabi Hartmann

Thu, Jun 27, 2024

Gabi Hartmann - vocal lead + guitar
Bruno Marmey - drums
Abdoulaye Kouyate - guitar
Pierre Elgrishi - Electric bass
Aurélien Tomasi - clarinet

However much we have to say about Gabi Hartmann, no-one will necessarily know where her voice has taken us. To a cellar where there’s jazz, a tropical beach at sunset? To a hillside terrace in Lisbon... or maybe the back of some Paris restaurant one evening in winter. Close your eyes and you see embracing shadows, those of a jazz legend or a diva of the bossa nova, a great lady in black who sings in French or Portuguese, all of them passing by at a crossroads between exquisite chic and dizzying nostalgia, comforting softness, and low spirits that can be shared.

Fifteen months after introducing herself with an EP, the first full album by Gabi Hartmann, produced with Jesse Harris, has been released at long last. They had met in New York at a 2018 recording session, and Jesse brought talents that have already produced glorious collaborations with such singers as Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux and Melody Gardot.

What Gabi brought to the album was her personal musical history in the making, and it is already a rich one. She spent her childhood in a Parisian family listening to French chansons, rock, and music from all over. Until she was fourteen, she studied classical piano, and then exchanged the keyboard for her brother’s guitar so that she could write songs. Jazz would spring up as a rewind after she discovered Amy Winehouse and the latter’s takes on Ella, Sinatra or Nat King Cole. Gabi Hartmann would take music classes at the Schola Cantorum and the Conservatoire and make a detour through Brazilian music when she went to live in Rio for two years. She would also study ethnomusicology in London before returning to Paris where she multitasked in projects that covered ten genres in three languages.

When Jesse Harris suggested he might produce an album for her, Gabi saw it as an invitation to "bring together all that I am.” In other words, she gathered her loves of Billie Holiday and Lhasa de Sela, her friendships with Sudanese flautist Ghandi Adam and Guinean guitarist Abdoulaye Kouyaté, her admiration for the great crooner Henri Salvador, her memories of travels in Africa, her own new songs, and then other, older ones that had been written before her parents were born...

As soon as they first met, Hartmann and Harris began to write and record, spending their time between Paris and New York. Little by little, Gabi’s songs began to show the coherence of having the great jazz standards she loved alongside the confessions of a young French woman of her times, and her fascination for the music of the Tropics together with her Parisian poetic instincts…

While preparing this album, Gabi she found time to open for Jamie Cullum and Melody Gardot and make regular appearances at the famous Duc des Lombards jazz club in Paris. She looked on as the stir her name was creating began to spread far and wide... Early in 2021, her five-track mini-album introduced a great voice that was both popular and skilled. And that is exactly what this new record confirms: her warm, precise tone with a touch of casual elegance, an equal amount of charm — that of a tightrope walker singing in French, English or Portuguese, even in Arabic for verse or two.

Gabi’s style is timeless, yet she takes an honest look at her own era with La Mer, a tragic song that speaks of the fate of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea... it also provides evidence that here we can listen to an introspective writer who is also a plural composer...

Here is the first album by the enchanting singer Gabi Hartmann, who has offered us her vision of several worlds, and several lives, in combining her musings with a gentle sadness.