Veronique Dombguil Bernard Berenguer

In “Enjoy the Silence,” vocalist MV (Marie-Verinoque) of MV Jazz is paired with two guitarists who create lovely, folk-inspired music. Though MV sings with a social conscience, her phrasing also glistens with a jazz sensibility. One prime example is “Why Don’t You Do Right?” which is punched through with her sweet, flowing syncopation.

“Sweet and Sour Bossa” features a solid, balanced bass line and twinkling, light-filled piano that takes its solo between her airy verses. The cherished swan song “How Insensitive” she launches with melancholy tinged with acceptance and an insider’s knowledge of the broken heart.

Ever the collaborator on the music of other artists, she has now branched out into her own original music and anticipates releasing her first EP shortly.  

What was your first public performance?

My first public performance was in front of my family. During my childhood, I was studying harpsichord at a music conservatory in my hometown. Under the supervision of the American conductor Mark Shapiro, I also took part in a children’s choir in this school. I was seven years old when I sung my first jazz songs. It’s thanks to Mark Shapiro that I discovered jazz! 

Why did you become a vocalist?

I have always loved to sing! I used to sing with my mother who had a beautiful voice. It makes me feel joyful and it is my passion in life. 

How has the character of your voice changed through the years?

I practice a lot to increase my vocal and tonal range. To paraphrase the Roman philosopher Cicero: the voice is the mirror of our soul; it reflects our experiences and the way we live. 

How do you keep it flexible?

Thanks to yoga! Besides, I still have a vocal teacher that I see several times per year. It’s easy to take bad habits when you sing. It’s like a “check-up” when a vocal teacher helps you to correct your posture and gives you good advice to improve your vocal range. 

What do you like about a trio configuration?

Three is a magic number. The trio configuration gives us more liberty than a duet and permits each of us to improvise in a variety of ways.

How have you grown to read each other so well?

The more we pass time together in between rehearsals, concerts; the more that complicity is created, that reflects in the music. For example, a simple look or nod is enough to communicate during a concert. 

You prefer a small club or large festival?

It’s not the same ambiance; the public is different in a club for example. There is a proximity where we exchange/communicate with the public.

The energy from a large venue is different but can also bring us a large amount of inspiration. It’s essential not to fall into a routine and maintain the ability to create something new depending on the venue/public.

Favorite masterclass?

I have learned something different from each masterclass. For instance, I was petrified when played in front of the bass player/singer Avishaï Cohen but it was interesting. I understood at this moment what masterclass meant. It was equally an interaction and something that brought as much to the master as much as the students. 

I loved to learn by the side of a pioneer of jazz, singer Sheila Jordan. She focuses on transmitting her love of music and she knew many musicians who marked the history of jazz (Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Max Roach). She is incredibly nice, a pleasure to spend time with and adorable as well.  

In regards to another artist, Youn Sun Nah, I have a wonderful memory where I spent two days with her at Marciac. She’s a singer who gives me goosebumps each time I have the opportunity to see her in concert. She really finds the beauty in all of us.  

We can learn a lot being in the presence of other artists and attending their concerts.

What ideas inspire you when you compose?

The different writing workshops that I participated in gave me plenty of techniques and useful tips and tricks. A phrase from a movie, a written text or even an image can inspire me. I spent a lot of time observing the world. It’s a super playground for creativity! 

Your favorite standard jazz song to sing?

“If You Could See Me Now,” with no hesitation. Ballads are the kind of songs that I adore to sing. And this one, composed by Tadd Dameron, is a jewel. I adore songs with lyrics that seem to be tailor-made. 

Your favorite original composition to sing?

The one that is not written yet! I have a lot of compositions that are not yet recorded and I hope to share them with you soon. 

How do you decide whether to perform in English or French?

I sing in Portuguese, Russian, French and English. I believe that the official language of jazz is English. I think images fit the words and the ideas are more direct in English whereas French is more paraphrasing and poetic, and doesn’t necessarily need music to surround it. 

How would you describe the current jazz scene in Paris?

Paris’s rich tapestry of creative artists is quite impressive. It’s a very varied scene: fusion jazz, electro music, vocal jazz and world music are all represented.  

What city would you most like to perform?

New York, because it’s one of the birthplaces of jazz music. I find it to be inspiring, cultural in terms of jazz music, there are many venues for music as well as many musicians, and it’s historically rich. 

Most recent CD?

My EP is in preparation. I took part in several projects and can be heard on many discs (electro, French songs…). It is now time to take care of myself! 

Best thing about producing that CD?

I love to go to the studio. It is completely different than the stage. There is a big preparation of work because we cannot permit ourselves to do a million takes in several days. So we are obliged to work in large amounts in advance, in order to be focused and efficient. Sometimes the magic sparks at the first take and it’s spectacular!

Upcoming projects?

In addition to my EP, I’m working on a project about a tribute to women writers and composers through the centuries. It’s a very long project to achieve. But I can spend hours talking about Abbey Lincoln who is one of my favorite jazz singers and has created wonderful songs. 

Other comments?

My collaboration with teachers and fellow musicians on many different projects has given me an enormous amount of inspiration. I now embark on the journey to give life to the music I have composed and have so much joy in.

For  more information, visit www.mvjazz.fr.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of MV and are both (c) Bernard Berenguer.
(c) Debbie Burke 2018

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