Eric Yves Garcia – One Night Standards continues at the Crazy Coqs, London until 13 June.
Star rating: 4 stars ★ ★ ★ ★
After a warm if brief introduction from Ruth Leon, Eric Yves Garcia takes to the intimate stage of the Crazy Coqs somewhat sheepishly for his first show in the UK. An award-winning vocalist/instrumentalist in his own country, Garcia’s hit show One Night Standards collates a selection of lesser-known numbers from the Great American Songbook. Arlen, Rodgers, Porter and Gershwin are all present and correct, but it is always fascinating to drift away from the well-trodden path of ‘My Funny Valentine’ and discover a broader spectrum of witty, poignant lyrics and of course, great tunes.
An evidently accomplished pianist, Garcia ploughs purposefully through his set, offering introductions as an afterthought and demonstrating a self-deprecating sense of humour that gradually warms him to his audience. Despite Garcia’s somewhat low-key entrance, nothing can quite prepare you for the strength and clarity of his vocals. His musical choices err towards jazz/blues with a touch of swing thrown in for good measure and Arlen and Mercer’s ‘Ridin’ On the Moon’ is a punchy opener that hints of great things to come.
The somewhat saccharine lyrics of Whiting and Robin’s ‘One Hour With You’ are given a richer perspective through Garcia’s up-beat arrangements while Ira Gershwin’s lyrics for ‘I Can’t Get Started’ benefit from Garcia’s bold delivery. In something of a break from type, Garcia even attempts a bit of Coward, but as witty as ‘Nina’ is, it’s a very odd choice to close the first half of an otherwise distinctive set.
‘You’d Better Love Mw’ swings us into the second half and the artist is on much surer territory, segueing effortlessly into Bobby Troup’s ‘You’re Looking At Me’ and then changing gear to an exquisite rendition of French chanson, ‘Que Reste-t-il de Nos Amours’.
Hesitant at first, Garcia soon leaves the comfort of his piano stool to tell us a little about his career and some of the anecdotes he has gathered from a life on tour and as a regular at New York’s Chez Josephine under the watchful eye of the late manager Jean-Claude Baker. It is these personal touches that add warmth and colour to the set and indeed Garcia’s poignant ‘Hey Look, No Crying’, with its sense of loss and resolution, bring an emotional piquancy to an otherwise light-hearted cabaret.
Ably accompanied on double bass by Joe Pettitt, Garcia negotiates his One Night Standards with style and self-assurance. His show may only run for a week but hopefully this is not the last London sees of this startlingly talented and versatile performer.