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With the participation of: Eric Perez, Jean-Christophe Jacques, Laurent Chavoit
“I had real trouble choosing whether to be an actress or a singer.” This admission is a good reflection of Leïla Martial’s personality and originality. The expressive young singer plays her voice like an instrument and speaks a truly unique language. It is no coincidence that her group was initially called “Mime and Phonium”, in other words, “Gesture and Sound”. This uniqueness is already being celebrated by professionals: the extremely rigorous jury of La Défense National Jazz Competition (Councours National de jazz de la Défense) gave her top prize for soloists, the first time the prize was ever awarded to a singer.
Leïla Martial maintains that her qualities come from her background. She really was brought up in a world of music: her father is a classical oboist and music theory teacher, her mother an opera singer. Her path was mapped out: the young girl from Ariège learned to play the piano and sing. As for school, she would attend the Marciac secondary school in the Gers region (famous for its international jazz festival) where she would learn the ropes of the industry along side the future saxophonist Emile Parisien. Leïla continued to hesitate being an actress or a singer– she went on to the Conservatoire in Castres. But her passion for jazz grew stronger and at 17, she gained a place at the Conservatoire in Toulouse for a 3-year study course which she completed with flying colours. This was followed by a term at the San Sebastian Conservatoire. Having mastered the basics - repertoire, vocal technique and temperament, she now only had to forge her personality. Leïla launched her stage career with a duo (guitarist and accordionist) and a big band. Above all, she enjoys improvising and is beginning to create her own style with onomatopoeias. “Foreign languages have always fascinated me, I spent hours imitating and inventing new ones. When I first heard Médéric Collignon it was a revelation. I was struck by the similarities between us, for a moment I thought that it was me singing.” Refusing classification, Leïla had come across another singing all-rounder. She drew inspiration from gypsy music, her first love, classical music, under the influence of her parents, contemporary music like Steve Reich, Arvo Part, and jazz of course, with a weakness for Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, Eric Dolphy and Médéric Collignon – but also pop songs – Barbara, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel…
Her first album, which hasn’t yet been released consists of standards, is aimed at making a name for herself in this milieu. Leïla is stepping up to the plate. She has now been writing songs and has gone from the “straitjacket of harmony” to the piano. Her quartet started in 2007 with Eric Perez “my alter ego” (drums, sampling, backing vocals), Jean-Christophe Jacques (tenor and soprano saxophone) and Laurent Chavoit (bass). The group gained its national calling card after winning third prize in the Défense Competition in 2009.
They recorded their first album, made up of original compositions except for one track by Billie Holiday and Mal Waldron. “This album is a perfect reflection of us, between density and deprivation”, she commented . A frail young lady, nowadays Leïla Martial has made her mark with a style that combines intensity and fragility.