Interview by Emily May
New York-based Parisian jazz singer Tatiana Eva-Marie has been captivating audiences with her 1930s/1940s-style of swing and gypsy jazz, having been included in a list by Vanity Fair Magazine as a rising jazz star. Having been born to a film composer father and violinist mother, she was exposed to a wide array of classical, jazz and hippie/rock music from a young age, which cultivated her love for the swing music and gypsy jazz she performs today. She started singing when she was 4 and fell in love with the stage, having performed over the years as a singer and actress. She moved to New York from Paris in 2011 and formed the Avalon Jazz Band in 2014 and has been playing all across the city since, spreading her love of jazz! Having been heavily influenced by the iconic musician Django Reinhardt, Tatiana Eva-Marie and the Avalon Jazz Band will be paying tribute to him and his music on Tuesday, January 22nd at Dizzy’s Club (Jazz at Lincoln Center) in New York, featuring the guitarist Olli Soikkeli. You can find more information and a link to purchase tickets to what is sure to be an incredible night of music by following this link: https://www.jazz.org/dizzys/events/8588/tatiana-eva-marie-django-birthday-celebration/ . You can follow Tatiana Marie and the Avalon Jazz Band via the links below.
Avalon Jazz Band- http://www.avalonjazzband.com/tag/tatiana-eva-marie/
You focus your music on Parisian inspired hot jazz and swing reminiscent of the 1930s and 1940s. What attracted you to swing and that particular style of jazz?
My father Louis Crelier – who is a film composer – used to be the frontman of a 1920s style big band. My favorite thing in the world when I was a kid was watching him sing. I was so obsessed with it that I knew all the arrangements by heart. As a film composer, he also exposed me to lots of old Hollywood movies and musicals when I was probably too young to watch them, which trained my ear and my sensibilities. My love for Paris struck me when I was four years old and my mother Anca Maria, who is a violinist, took me there on tour with her. She introduced me to the music of Stéphane Grappelli, my father complemented with Henri Salvador, Yves Montand, Ray Ventura and I was hooked. What attracts me in this style of music is the joy, irreverence, romance, the movement, the abandonment. It’s music that never takes itself seriously. It’s a mentality the world desperately needs right now, in my opinion.
You performed your repertoire “Under The Moon” at The McKittrick Hotel in NY this past August, performing jazz songs about the moon under a full moon! What were some highlights of the evening? It sounds like it was magical!
In the 1920s and 30s there was a real moon song craze. You wouldn’t imagine how many beautiful songs there are about the moon, it’s overwhelming! I have always been a night owl and I especially love the moon, the romantic and maddening effect it has on us humans. It was indeed magical, singing these songs in that setting and I was very honored to have singer Charles Turner and saxophonist Patrick Bartley join me as special guests for the occasion, as they are both great friends and musicians I adore collaborating with. One of the highlights for me was the chance to premiere a song that I wrote in the same tradition called “There’s Always a Moon over New Orleans”. It’s the second moon song I write and hopefully not the last! You can watch an animated music video for my first one, “Moongirl”, on YouTube:
What can you tell me about your band, The Avalon Jazz Band?
I moved to New York without a plan, just looking for some adventure and a change of life, but I already had the concept for Avalon Jazz Band in my suitcase with me. I had always wanted to sing jazz and New York seemed like the most fertile ground for this project to blossom. Here, I met the right, like-minded musicians who became my friends and band members. And it was at the right time too, just when the world was getting hip to jazz again and young people were starting to play it and listen to it again. Recently we’ve been touring internationally and have been gathering fans all around the globe through our YouTube channel. It’s always so wonderful to receive messages from unexpected places and know our music brings people joy, which is the essence of the Parisian style of jazz we play.
The Avalon Jazz Band performed recently at NYC’s Winter Jazz Fest where you performed your “From Paris To New Orleans” set! How was the fest? Who were some of the other performers that you looked forward to seeing?
What a great lineup this year on the hot jazz scene! So many dear friends and fantastic musicians. First of all, what a thrill to have Evan Christopheras my guest on clarinet, he is such an inspiration. The highlights for me were definitely Mathis Picard, who is one of the most original young pianists around, and Alphonso Horne (with his Gotham Kings) who is an absolute musical and personal delight, a cheeky ray of sunshine who brought some very welcome party vibes to the festival. My soul-sister Sasha Masakowski, who was also my guest during my set played her own show – accompanied by her father Steve Masakowski on guitar and Martin Masakowski on bass – with her new project Art Market, which is a very interesting New Orleanian eclectic mix of music. She never fails to impress me with her creativity. Featured in the festival with his band Rhythm Future Quartet was Finnish guitarist Olli Soikkeli, who will be my special guest for the Django Birthday Celebration at Dizzy’s.
What can you tell me about the tribute show for the iconic Django Reinhardt at Jazz at Lincoln Center on January 22nd! What kind of influence has he had on you and your music? What kind of an impact do you feel he has had on jazz? What can people expect from the evening?
I started getting involved in the jazz manouche scene when I lived in Paris and was singing traditional Gypsy and Eastern European music. There was a lot of crossover between the two genres at that time. Listening to the music of Django Reinhardt actually encouraged me to rekindle my love for early jazz in general and is probably what inspired my move to New York. His reputation as one of the greatest guitarists of all time is well established in the jazz community and I think he has had a great impact on every guitarist that has come after him. He created a style of playing that is very unique. It’s an unapologetically hybrid kind of music, a mix between East, West and Paris. It sounds suspended in time, oneiric and sentimental, yet modern, strong and brazen. It’s a style that is endlessly gaining in popularity because of its timelessness and youthful energy. During our birthday tribute show we will be performing a repertoire of Django’s compositions and jazz standards made famous by his iconic recordings of them. I have invited Olli Soikkeli to join my band (Gabe Terracciano on violin, Vinny Raniolo on guitar and Wallace Stelzer on bass) for this special occasion. He is the poster child for Gypsy jazz of his generation and a great source of inspiration for me since we recorded “Je Suis Swing” together in 2016. I am looking forward to our reunion and eager to celebrate the musical genius of Django Reinhardt with such outstanding musicians.