French Jazz in Philadelphia: Madeleine Peyroux, Eddie Lang Tribute

Madeleine Peyroux

Two very different brands of French jazz occur in Philadelphia this weekend when chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux plays the Merriam Theater on Friday, October 25, and the late swing guitar great Eddie Lang is celebrated this Sunday, October 27 at Rollers in Germantown.

Madeleine Peyroux may have been born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, but her distinctive husky voice, pulsating musicality and spare arrangements have always been informed by the sounds of Parisian street jazz and the dramatic balladry of the boulevardier. She is Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf rolled into one woman, with a playful dash of Fats Waller just for fun. Along with penning her own brand of lonesome blues, Peyroux has famously covered the outrĂ© likes of  Serge Gainsbourg, Robert Johnson, and Tom Waits on theatrical albums such as Half the Perfect World. Her newest recording, The Blue Room, is different than her usual in that she embraces one particular album, Ray Charles’ classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and makes into a prairie-dusted Parisian treat with equal doses of French cabaret jazz and ethereal C&W ambience. You can catch Peyroux  at the Merriam Theater, 25 S. Broad St. ($30 to $55, 215.893.1999,

South Philadelphia-born guitarist Eddie Lang carried the flag for quick strummed, Parisian hot swing jazz and plucky French gypsy jazz (a la Django Reinhardt) throughout the 1920s and early 30s, before passing away suddenly in 1933. His music, played often with Philadelphia swing jazz violinist Joe Venuti, inspired jazz guitarists who followed in his wake, and his legions of fans along the East Coast have turned his birthdate into a Philadelphia holiday, celebrated by like-minded players re-thinking his catalog. Swing jazz aficionado Barry Wahrhaftig will host this Sunday’s Eddie Lang Day Tribute with his band, the Hot Club of Philadelphia, the madcap jazz genius Marty Grosz, and illustrious guests at Roller's Restaurant, 2nd floor, 8142 Germantown Ave. ($15, 215.247.0707,

Madeleine Peyroux photo ©Rocky Schenck

Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2013