I am listening to Madeleine Peyroux's peerless CD, Careless Love, and wondering what went wrong last night at the Paramount Theatre in Denver. The studio versions of her music offer pure, birdlike jazz vocalizing in which her voice nearly disappears into itself, at the very edge of human sound, as far from speaking as you can imagine. But during the concert, Madeleine Peyroux seemed to be going through the motions, letting her songs fall out of the sky onto just another stage on just another stop on a long tour. Several songs into her set, a man from the audience yelled, "Turn it up!" and I knew what he was trying to say. I have fallen in love with the Careless Love CD, and my first thought was that there had to be something wrong with the sound system at the Paramout. Madeleine took the comment as a hit, calling the man "a heckler," and she returned to the incident later, showing it had shaken her. Maybe she knew she was missing the mark.

Another possibility is that her jazzy interpretations have simply evolved since she recorded Careless Love, her second CD after a highly regarded debut, Dreamland. By the end of the concert, I had almost let go of the recorded versions, and when she sang without her guitar I found myself dropping my critique, settling into the present. Her band was terrific, including two musicians from Denver, the trumpet player and the keyboardist. A young man from New York played a big double bass, and the drummer played his brushes with easy grace. It's also possible that my surly reaction to the concert might have had something to do with the headache that I had given myself yesterday by racing through the day multitasking to catch up from my trip.

In any event, Madeleine Peyroux got it celestially right at least once, and the results are safely preserved on the CD and on my Nano. In real life, she is off to her next concert, living large on the road compared with her urchin days as an American singing on the streets of Paris. In "This is Heaven to Me" she sings, "If you got your hands and got your feet, to sing your song all through the street, you raise your head when day is done, shout your thanks up to the sun."

Pink sunlight has arrived on the snowy mountains visible in the distance through my downtown windows. My bare feet are cold under my desk. My headache has retreated to a dull curtain. Let's see if I can avoid multitasking today and stick to getting just a few things right.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

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