Oana Cataline Chitu: Romania's New Edith Piaf

CD-Arts 3913
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Maria Tănase (1913-63) was sometimes called the “Edith Piaf of Romania.” Like Piaf, she was a diva in the best sense, a singer that mined her nations various influences–gypsy, jazz, cabaret, tango, folk melodies…. Although the soulless apparatchiks labeled her decadent and tried to silence her, Romanians flocked to her funeral in 1963 and mourned her passing. All of this is to say that mortals don’t meddle with her repertoire. Enter the heavenly voice of Oana Cătălina Chiţu, Romanian-born and now a resident of Berlin. Chiţu wends her way through a dozen Tănase favorites by both evoking her idol and by hitting the refresh button. She masters silly songs such as “Train, Little Train,” wrenches emotion from soulful lamentations such as “Oh World, Oh World,” is giddy with café-style love in “If I Hadn’t Met You,” and fans the flames of torchy selections such as “I’ve Put Sweet Basil in My Hair.” Then there are the songs on which Chiţu puts her own stamp. “Pe Vale” has a honky tonk feel that’s more Patsy Cline than Maria Tănase,  “You Have No Idea” is a sexy tango reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich, and “He Who Loves and Runs Away” establishes an experimental and discordant base from which to launch Chiţu’s cover of Tănase’s done-her-wrong song

This is a brilliant album for which much of the credit should go to the amazing musicians assembled. Special shout outs go to violinist Slavici Anton, saxophonist Vladimir Karparov, and accordionist Dejean Jovanovic. But above all, there is Chiţu. She is the equal to any jazz diva on the planet and has considerably more spunk than most of them. This is a tribute album, but it’s also primal, exuberant, and original. --Rob Weir

Here's a YouTube sample of Chitu's singing. 

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