April 3, 2018


The German cabaret scene of the 1920s was unique. Inhibitions and restrictions of the past were set aside in freewheeling stage performances that broke new boundaries in self-expression, morality and music. Sandwiched between World War I. and the rise of the Nazis in 1933, it was a period that, at least onstage, was full of wild performances and rare outbursts of freedom.

Adi Braun, a superior jazz singer from Canada, pays tribute to that doomed era with a colorful set of music that includes lyrics by (among others) Bertolt Brecht, Oscar Hammerstein, Ogden Nash, Maxwell Anderson and (on three songs) herself. Ranging (as she says in the liner notes) from murder ballads to prostitute songs, the music celebrates the “modern woman” of the era. “Speak Low,” “Mack The Knife,” “I’m A Stranger Here Myself” and Maxwell Anderson’s “It Never Was You” are included along with lesser-known tunes and Braun’s “Moderne Frau.” There is also a tribute to Josephine Baker (“Josephine”) that has the rhythm section (led by pianist Tom King) joined by three horns.

Throughout Moderne Frau, Adi Braun sounds very much at home expressing herself in a wide variety of emotions, from joy to “let’s make the best of it” sorrow. It makes for an intriguing and memorable set of rarely-heard music and is available form .

Scott Yanow