At 2 p.m. Saturday, June 25, cabaret singer Megan Jerome appeared at the Ottawa Jazz Festival's Rendez-Vous Rideau Jazz Stage with drummer and husband Mike Essoudry.
With a music degree in jazz piano and experience in free improvisation in IMOO concerts and the Ottawa Jazz Festival's Ottawa Composers' Collective, Jerome has jazz creds. But she's best known these days for her songwriting, as exemplified on her 2010 CD, Bloomers.
Her songs are short vignettes: quirky and clever with bright sparkly accompaniment, almost reminiscent of Dave Frishberg. Most of those she played were in English, but a few were in French, or bilingual. She alternated between a vintage Wurlitzer electric piano, and an accordion.
The songs have diverse influences – for example "Want" is about a homeless man in Ottawa; "Flora" was inspired by a painting by Marc Chagall called The Acrobat. Some were jazzy, some were bluesy and sultry.
When asked afterward, Jerome said these songs were less influenced by jazz – or by English vocalists in general – but rather by French cabaret and chanson. She was first intrigued by the soundtrack to the film Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, and then listened to other chansonniers.
In her live performances Megan Jerome consistently conveys the feeling that she's glad to be there and having fun. Saturday's show was no exception. Perhaps she had additional reason to be sunny - about a month ago, she learned that she had won a Galaxie Rising Star Emerging talent award, through the Ottawa Folk Festival. All the artists chosen to perform at the Folk Festival were eligible, but "I nearly didn't apply, because surely, they're looking for some 20-year-old." The prize is worth $1000.
– Alayne McGregor