An act with taste
Expect a few courses of fun when Nicole Peyrafitte hits the stage

By GREG HAYMES, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, February 15, 2007


That's the first word that comes to mind whenever I have the great pleasure of watching Nicole Peyrafitte perform. You just never know what to expect when she steps into the spotlight -- whether she's singing a jazz show at Justin's, hosting the Experimental Cabaret at Tess' Lark Tavern or dishing up one of her thrilling, ambitious one-woman performances.

You don't just watch Peyrafitte, you experience her. And in fact, when she takes the stage at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio in Albany on Friday evening, not only will you be watching and listening, but you'll also be smelling and tasting.

Yes, Peyrafitte's masterful multimedia performance of "The Bi-Continental Chowder" is a feast for the senses. You get a good taste of it on her eclectic new CD, "La Garbure Transcontinentale/The Bi-Continental Chowder," on the new Ta'wil Productions label, but this is a performance that really has to be experienced live in order to be fully appreciated.

I was lucky enough to be in the audience in 2005 when Peyrafitte -- who was named best performance artist by the Times Union that year -- performed the American premiere of the piece at the now defunct Firlefanz Gallery. It was a wild and utterly wonderful fusion of music, movement, paintings, video, poetry and much more, but at the heart of the piece is her cooking.

That's right: During the performance, she cooks up a large, mouth-watering pot full of chowder and at the end of night, she serves it up to each member of the audience. It's a truly nourishing performance -- intellectually, spiritually and physically, too.

At the WAMC Performing Arts Studio on Friday, Peyrafitte will also be joined by award-winning poet, essayist and translator Pierre Joris, who is celebrating the release of his new CD, "Routes, Not Roots," also on the Ta'wil label.

It should come as no surprise that Joris' stimulating, multilayered poetry (often with musical accompaniment) will be woven throughout Peyrafitte's performance; both of their albums were co-produced by Peyrafitte and Joris, who are a couple offstage.

Joining Joris and Peyrafitte on Friday will be some of the Capital Region's most adventurous musicians -- oud player Munir Beken, bassist Michael Bisio, percussionist Ben Chadabe and guitarist Mitch Elrod -- all of whom can also be heard on the CDs.

Greg Haymes is the pop music writer for the Times Union. Send e-mail to Ghaymes@ or call 454-5742.

All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2003, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.

Nicole Peyrafitte/Pierre Joris