The husband-and-wife jazz duo of Monique and Louis Aldebert returned from a break during a recent set and found two long-stemmed red roses on top of their piano--a gesture from an anonymous patron that underscores the champagne ambience the talented Franco-American couple bring to the room.
Monique Aldebert, the vocalist, and pianist/arranger/singer Louis Aldebert are pumping glamour and cool cocktail jazz, mixed with Gallic and Brazilian beats, into Encino's night life at the Marquis Encino.
The pair will perform three sets every Wednesday through February after a popular live jazz gig at the Westwood Marquis that turned out to be the last one held at the venue.
The Aldeberts are the perfect couple for a smoky jazz club. There aren't many husband-and-wife vocal teams with the eclectic virtuosity of this pair. Louis also plays the electric keyboard, and their music is a melange of le jazz scat, classical, Samba, humming and shoo-be-doo-be-doo.
Jean-Paul Vignon, who is the couple's manager, says: "The Aldeberts bring a new kind of life and sophistication to the space, which is not easily found elsewhere. Their performance emphasizes life, fun and international flair."
From a two-year stint in a Las Vegas hotel, a job that brought them to the United States in 1970, to bar mitzvahs and private parties, the Aldeberts are testament to the erratic, insecure life of jazz musicians.
"Now we are in a happy situation, doing what we want to do," Monique Aldebert said.
Her husband agreed. "We're not stuck anymore doing lounge versions of the Top 40. You lose your personality doing that stuff. You become a jukebox," he said.
The couple believe that the jazz climate is improving. "Young kids are getting interested in jazz," Louis Aldebert said. "Fifteen years ago, we couldn't find work in L.A."
Now their mix of original songs and adaptations of the works of jazz-associated artists such as Pat Metheny, Bill Evans and Michel Legrand is reviving a career that has been encouraged by friends such as singer Al Jarreau and the Jazz Crusaders.
Married since 1962, the Aldeberts met in Paris in the late '50s when both were jamming in clubs and struggling to make it as jazz artists. She was from Monaco and he was from Egypt, born to a French father and English mother. "My first gig," he said with a grin, "was playing the piano in a Port Said hotel. I was 13 years old and still wearing short pants."
In the '60s in France, they were part of the world-famous vocal jazz group, "The Double-Six of Paris." The unique ensemble of stylists would take a chant from Count Basie or Stan Kenton, sing all the parts of the instruments and add lyrics. That "vocalese," blending the sounds of instruments with voices, still influences the Aldeberts' style today.
"There's still confusion over how to describe our sound," Monique said with a laugh. "But we give standards a jazz flavor. My very first inspirations, when I was a young girl in France, were Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan."
The couple live in Studio City and have two married sons. "Creatively, we're in sync," Monique Aldebert said. "What saved us, when 'The Double-Six of Paris' broke up after 10 years, was that we could work
together as a duo."
But it was tough working at The Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas after their arrival in the United States in 1970, they said.
"There was no time to be creative," Louis Aldebert said. "You slept during the day and did a backbreaking load of shows till 4 in the morning every day. It was a job. Vegas, musically and emotionally, didn't count. It was when we left Vegas, when we finally arrived in L.A., that we felt we had come to America."
It was Monique Aldebert who, during their romantic jazz days in the Paris of the '50s, pushed her future husband to add singing to his arranging, writing and piano playing. "Performers such as Blossom Dearie and Annie Ross kind of discovered us and took us under their wing in Paris, and they further pushed us," she said.
One of their songs was published by performer Charles Aznavour. Their unique version of "A Man and a Woman" is still played on the air in France, and in 1965 Brigitte Bardot recorded one of their songs. Now they would like to find a recording label.
For them, the life of one-nighters and short runs at such oases as the Vine Street Bar & Grill, The Queen Mary, Le Cafe, even scoring a couple of movies that didn't do much business ("Bobby Deerfield," "The Fall Guy") has been a tribute to their durability in an insecure business.
\o7 Monique and Louis Aldebert at the Marquis Encino, 16705 Ventura Blvd., no cover, two-drink minimum. Three sets every Wednesday night between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., through February. (818) 783-1320.