Yves Montand at the Crazy Coqs

Jean Brassard

There is a new, smart club in town, and they have decided to help Londoners relax in their stylish surroundings by putting on cabaret. But instead of sexy girls in Basques, they offer good singers.

It's a bit like the Café Royale did in the Green Room many moons ago, before it lost most of its style in the refurb, and has only one glitzy room left now. (The rest is beige, in feeling, if not in colour – cold and boring.)

And so it was delightful to descend the steps to the new Emporium of – who else but Corbin/King – who opened their Brasserie Zedel to great acclaim this year. Opposite the buzzing restaurant is the Art Deco bar, the The American Bar, superb if you actually want to talk to your dearest. It's quiet, a rare event in London nowadays. What bliss!

And then there is the Crazy Coqs, the Cabaret room (I'm not sure about the name, but I’m sure about the club), and that will be here in years to come if it keeps bringing in talent like Jean Brassard, here from Canada for just this week. Just returned from the Recklinghausen Festival, a premier art event in Germany, Jean presented his Yves Montand set, a review of songs of the great French singer and actor. He cleverly gives us the info we badly needed about Montand’s life at the same time: his long marriage to the famous French actress Simone Signoret (herself French national treasure as well) and his affair with Marilyn Monroe that sadly brought this dream combo to an end after 20 years).

Initially, I really though Jean was just too nice to be Montand, whose raw sex appeal of his later years was mesmerizing to all females who came near. Jean’s perfect pitch and smooth intonation seemed too smooth, too mellifluous; I remembered the older Montand croaking just a bit.Then I checked, and amazingly, the younger Montand was just as nice, almost innocent and very charming. So Jean Brassard was right on! And he added songs by Jacques Prevert which I hadn’t heard for ages. He took my breath away with a rendition of Baudelaire’s Les Bijoux, which was achingly beautiful!

If I were you, I'd rush – Jean Brassard is only here this week!