You can almost see him in her smile — an inherited family trait defying genetic explanation. So what if the trumpet-wielding vocalist Lysandre Champagne (of Misses Satchmo) is not related by blood to the late and great Louis Armstrong? The love this young Montreal "Miss" possesses for her adopted musical forebear is about as thick as it gets.
Borrowing Armstrong's nickname "Satchmo" (a contraction of "satchel mouth" in honour of his suitcase-sized smile), Champagne established her retro band of hipster "Misses" to put on cabaret-style shows featuring the repertoire of its namesake.
Originally a two-woman outfit (with pianist Maude Alain-Gendreau), Misses Satchmo quickly expanded to a coed quartet, adding Frédéric Pauze on bass and Marton Maderspach on drums. The band recently welcomed two more into their extended family (Yvan Belleau on clarinet and Simon Marion on banjo) for their latest recording project, Apple Tree.
With simple, fun and sincere arrangements, Apple Tree (Bros Records, 2013) offers a playlist built around the theme of love, in all its forms. It includes a few classic standards along with lesser-known tunes from Armstrong's songbook, and comes complete with a New Orleans-style funeral march at the end with added guests Jean Sabourin on sousaphone and singer Nicole Carmen (perhaps standing in for Mahalia Jackson).
Apple Tree tracklist:
1. "As Long As You Live (You'll Be Dead If You Die)"
2. "Beau Koo Jack"
3. "Apple Tree"
4. "The Man From Harlem"
5. "He Likes it Slow"
6. "Swing That Music"
7. "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter"
8. "Sweet Savannah Sue"
9. "Ain't Misbehavin'"
11. "Blue Skies"
12. "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"
Cover of Apple Tree. (Courtesy of Bros Records)