On “Live the Life,” her new release for Mack Avenue, French chanteuse Ilona Knopfler makes a strong musical statement that further defines her place in the jazz world. The CD features twelve timeless songs from the pens of such legendary and diverse songwriters as Ivan Lins, Charles Aznavour, Thelonius Monk, Claude Nougaro, Abbey Lincoln, and Thomas A. Dorsey � whose “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song” kicks off the session and inspired the CD’s title. “Live the Life” highlights the purity of Ilona’s voice, emphasizes her eclectic stylistic abilities and pairs her with a world panoply of supporting players. The result is a lush, atmospheric collection that, in Ilona’s own words, “is a tribute to my unconditional love of music.”
Born in France and raised in a musical family (her mother was a singer, her father a pianist and her mother’s accompanist), Ilona had traveled the world by the time she was in pre-school. That early exposure to the world’s cultures finds its expression on “Live the Life,” on which Ilona sings in both English and French (she’s equally fluent in both) and which was recorded in both Paris and New York. Adding to the CD’s global spirit is the cast of international musicians, recruited by producers Jay Ashby and Al Pryor to add the right flavor to each different track. Among the more than 30 musical artists who contributed their talents to “Live the Life” are Alain Mallet on piano, James Genus and Rufus Reed on bass, Marty Ashby on guitar, Paquito D’Rivera on clarinet, and Mack Avenue label-mate Sean Jones on trumpet, as well as a string section and an oud player (on different tracks, of course).