Cyrille Aimée + Friends Live At Smalls – SmallsLive SL0018 67:02 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
(Cyrille Aimée – vocals; Roy Hargrove – trumpet; Joel Frahm – tenor sax; Spike Wilner – piano; Philip Kuehn – bass; Joseph Saylor – drums)
Cyrille Aimée is neither the reincarnation of Edith Piaf, nor Juliette Greco, but rather a young French singer with a luminous but diminutive voice, who nevertheless is making a big impression on the New York City music scene. Her latest release Cyrille Aimée + Friends Live At Smalls should help to broaden her appeal.
Backed by an excellent band which includes Roy Hargrove on a couple of tracks, Aimée offers her take on a number of popular and jazz standards which gives her a chance to demonstrate her musical range. An up-tempo “September in the Rain” leads off the set and after the introductory vocal chorus, Joel Frahm’s tenor sax takes over to perfectly surround the tune. Segueing into Charles Trenet’s “Que Reste-t-Il de nos Amours” whose English title is “I Wish You Love” gives Aimée a chance to showcase her French sensibilities and why the song sung in that language is more evocative.
While her vocal range is mostly mid-register, Aimée does swing along nicely, showing vocal curiosity and a willingness to tackle tunes in a variety of tempos, hence the Latinesque interpretation of “Love For Sale”. The Duke Ellington composition “I’m Beginning To See The Light” for some inexplicable reason is shown on the album cover as “I Was (sic) Beginning To See The Light” is a mid-tempo romp featuring bassist Philip Kuehn in a duo setting with Aimée, where she does some scatting but manages to stay within herself, as well as tenor sax player Joel Frahm. Wayne Tucker is a young trumpeter who penned “When I Was A Child” and provides the band a foundation to get into a groove where Aimée seems to find a comfort zone, and rocks out with some audience participation.
Cyrille Aimée is an engaging vocalist with a relaxed style and a good sense of improvisation. We should expect to hear more from her in the time ahead.
TrackList: September In The Rain; Que Reste-Il ( I Wish You Love); Yesterdays; East Village Inamorata; Love For Sale; I Was Beginning To See The Light; When I Was A Child; Lover Man; I Mean You; Stand By Me.
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