Barefootin'

It takes Personality to sing jazz. Personality, with a capital P. Something about the music demands charisma and self-assurance, a stage presence that is almost second nature. From the moment Lillian Boutté walks onstage it is clear that she possesses all these traits. From the moment she sings her first note, it is also clear that she has a voice to match.

This is a voice that is a gift to audiences everywhere. This is a voice that can slide silkily over soft passages, mournfully croon out sad ones, exuberantly belt out a strong forte and dip with ease into the lower portions of the scale. Ms. Boutté's consummate skill ensures that every second of her set is sublime. Look up on stage and there she is with that Personality, breaking out into a small dance, and motivating the audience to dance too. Close your eyes and there is that voice, carrying everyone away with its elegance. Behind Ms. Boutté the band - a simple arrangement of bass (Ed Kelly), piano (Tom Finlay) and drums (Paul Mills) - is impeccable, providing a perfect blend of backup and skilled individual performances.

With such mastery, it’s no surprise that the choice of songs are perfectly selected to show off Ms. Boutté’s vocal range. She easily rhymes her way through the playful ‘A-tisket A-tasket’, the vocal style of which is a bit reminiscent of scat singing; jumping just as quickly into a lively rendition of ‘Barefootin’, which had the crowd up and dancing; then rounding the set out with the soothing calm of ‘C’est Si Bon’. By far the hit of the night, though, was ‘What a Wonderful World’ as the finale, when Ms. Boutté took a stroll around the room and hugged or kissed every member of the audience.

To listen to this set is to be transported through time and space so one is no longer the loft of a bar, no longer Scotland at the height of the Fringe, but rather in 1920s America, the golden age of jazz, listening to the best the genre has to offer. This is a magic of its own kind. 'It's almost like being in love', Ms. Boutté croons in her opening number. Never was a line more true.

Reviews by Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

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Performances

The Blurb

Lillian returns to the Fringe, following her 2012 five star sell-out show, to again bless Edinburgh with the musical heartbeat of her native New Orleans. Swamp funk, soul and blues infuse our Storeyville-style loft. Everybody get on your feet! 

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