CULTURE

Multicultural jazz singer Elisabeth Kontomanou

Born and raised in France to a Guinean father and a Greek mother, jazz singer Elisabeth Kontomanou brings all the influences of her multicultural and varied background into her work, which elevates American and European jazz to a more global level.

The artist and her ensemble are currently on stage at the Half Note Jazz Club for a residency that runs to Thursday, February 17. The band is very much a family affair with three out of the four musicians being Kontomanou?s sons — pianist and composer Gustav Karlstrom, guitarist Joey Belmondo and drummer Donald Kontomanou. The fourth, non-related, member is bassist Lars Ekman.

A fan of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald, Kontomanou follows in the musical and stylistic footsteps of jazz?s great vocalists: passionate and consistent, she is an artist who masterfully mixes a French jazz mood with that of ?mama? America. Her collaborations can attest to that. Over the years, Kontomanou has worked with Leon Parker, Michel Legrand, Mike Stern, Jeff Watts, Richard Bona, Dennis Chambers, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jim Beard, Alain Jean-Marie and Toots Thielemans, among others.

A seasoned stage performer, Kontomanou is best known from her ?Embrace? album, which was released by Steeple Chase in 1999.

Long-time collaborator Jean-Michel Pilc had the following to say about Kontomanou: ?She has the remarkable ability to shake your soul and touch your heart by the very unique nature of her voice. Her presence possesses you right away, instantly taking you to another world, and, like Piaf, she could sing the phone book and make you cry.? 

Half Note Jazz Club, 17 Trivonianou, Mets, tel 210.921.3310.