Nicole Heartseeker & Mulo Francel – Moon River

Nicole Heartseeker & Mulo Francel - Moon River



4.4/5 Pros

  • Very nice interpretation of classic songs
  • Harmonic songs

December, when the frequency of album releases significantly decreases, is also a time for me to have some more outside-of-the-box and fun album reviews. Moon River releases on 8th December 2023 is one of them. In fact, it is a jazz cover album of the “Great American Songbook”. The two artists are Nicole Heartseeker on the piano and Mulo Francel playing the saxophone. Let’s enjoy this experience together.


Nicole Heartseeker & Mulo Francel – About The Artists

Moon River is in fact already the fourth studio album Nicole Heartseeker and Mulo Francel record together. For example, in July 2022, they focused on Italian music in their previous release Canzoni della bella Italia. Heartseeker is a German pianist and organ player, who started to study the instruments already in her teenage years. Later, she refined her play in Munich, Salzburg and Vienna. Apart from the two instruments, she is also a very passionate Cembalo player. Apart from being a well-respected saxophone player, Mulo Francel is also working as a composer for movie soundtracks. Born in 1967 in Munich, he is working in different bands and formations, including solo music or his world music ensemble Quadro Nuevo.


N. Heartseeker & M. Francel – Moon River – Track by Track

The twelve track album lasts 58 minutes.

1. Fly me to the moon

Fly Me to The Moon has originally been a jazz release by Kaye Ballard in 1954, named In Other Words. The Bart Howard write became popular ten years later when Frank Sinatra interpretated it. Heartseeker and Francel add a bit of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to it and turn it in to a gentle, magical listen.

2. Moon River

62 years after Audrey Hepburn song this one as part of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack, the German duo is going for their very own version of the classic. Again, the song is very calm and gentle and touches elements of jazz and classical music. This time, there is also more present for the piano. Really nice listen.

3. Lullaby of Birdland

I am not that much into jazz – this can also be reflected by the fact that I did not know the jazz standard Lullaby of Birdland. The jazz character is slightly reduced. However, the saxophone feels very virtuous in here, while Heartseeker is providing just the right melodic basis for that kind of freedom.

4. Love of my life

Even though the concept of the album, this one states a guy named Freddie Bulsara as the original author of the song. Of course, Heartseeker and Francel go for this Freddie Mercury write and Queen classic, Love of my life. They are finding a nice balance of not moving too far away from the original, but still presenting their own variations, their own ideas. I enjoy that, definitely.

5. Smile

With Smile, the German duo is going almost 90 years back in time. Smile has been part of the soundtrack of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. This song in its 2023 version is very jazzy, the saxophone feels to break free and create a lovely own style of this classic. beautiful listen.

6. You are so beautiful

I love Joe Cocker and his songbook – thus I was very curious about this five minute listen. The jazz version opens very closely to the original, but then also doing some own ideas. Nonetheless, this You are so beautiful feels very respectful, just a beauty in listening.

7. Autumn Leaves

Nicole Heartseeker’s and Mulo Francel’s Autumn Leaves is the only single release I found of the album so far. You might rather know the Roger Williams version (1955), which is, however, based on a French chanson released in 1946. I feel that this melancholic version of the song gives a beautiful touch of a typical autumn day. Heartseeker is also also to drive some parts of the song, which I feel leads to a very balanced listen.

8. What a wonderful world

These 6:41 minutes do not focus on the powerful and catching voice of Louis Armstrong, but interpret the classic in a beautifully gentle way. Is that a way to underline the fragility of nature nowadays? No idea… But I think to myself… What a beautiful song…

9. My funny Valentine

Unfortunately, the credits information I got for the songs at the end of the album are all a bit mixed up. My funny Valentine has been a song of the musical Babes in Arms. Heartseeker and Francel turn the track into a slow, mystical track with an intense atmosphere. Nice one.

10. She

I just knew the 1999 Elvis Costello version of She. However, the song has already been written in the mid-1970’s. Again, the 2023 jazz interpretation is gentle, not loud at all. But it still underlines the beauty of the track. And the song stays beautiful in this German re-arrangement. Good one.

11. The shadow of your smile

This song has been used as a love theme in the The Sandpiper movie. The cover version still has the touch of the mid-1960’s and feels like a song you would stereotypically imagine to be played by the duo in a nice little jazz bar at that time. By the way, if German listeners somehow feel that song is quite familiar to them – German rocker Udo Lindenberg recorded a very own version of it in 1985 (Helmut Owiewohl). There are also countless other versions like one by Peggy Lee (1965), Nancy Sinatra (1966) or Udo Jürgens (1969).

12. Moonlight in Vermont

The closing track of the album has its roots in 1944. The song is still nowadays seen as the unofficial state anthem of the US State. Again, Heartseeker and Francel add themselves to a list of many cover versions of this song. I feel they are doing really good in there.


N. Heartseeker & M. Francel – Moon River – Spotify

Here is the album on Spotify:


N. Heartseeker & M. Francel – Moon River – My View

I’m definitely not the best person to judge on jazz recordings. When I prepare my reviews, I very often skip jazz albums, just because I know I am not deep enough into a genre to give a fair judgement. Regarding Monn River, however, I really enjoyed the listen. The gentle, harmonic interpretations of classics felt really lovely to me and somehow fits to the cold winter season (at least if you live on the Northern hemisphere like I do). Really nice one.

Favorite Song: What a Wonderful World


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