Cyrille Aimée @ Ronnie Scott’s – 29th April 2015
Cyrille Aimée plays Ronnies, it’s a full house, many French aficionados await the entrance of the young jazz singer and her band on the stage.
Line up is:
Cyrille Aimée – vocals
Adrien Moignard – guitar
Michael Valeaun – electric guitar
Sam Anning – bass
Raj Jayaweera – drums
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde
Cyrille Aimée launched her label debut on the revered Mack Avenue Records last year with her album “It’s A Good Day” released in August. Mack Avenue is a potent player in the world of jazz record labels with high profile stablemates like: Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride, Stanley Jordan, Yellowjackets and Cécile McLorin Salvant, whom I am looking forward to seeing play at Ronnies beginning of June. Just a selection of some of the huge names Mack Avenue has on their books, assuring Ms Aimée the very best label support out there.
Guitar wizard Stanley Jordan, for example, is one of the great names Mack Avenue has secured. His latest album, “Friends”, features Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Stern and again Kenny Garrett to name a few.
Cécile McLorin Salvant, another big name on the label is just sheer elegance and versatility. Her album “WomanChild” needs to be attentively listened to. “Deep Dark Blue” is a stunning track.
Worth noting is the fact that Mack Avenue has another three labels under its belt: Artistry Music, Rendezvous Music and Sly Dog Records with names like: Freda Payne on Artistry, Kyle Eastwood on Rendezvous.
So when Cyrille and band start playing, they get cracking straight away. The first set is marked by songs like “It’s a good day”, a light merry song evoking the beautiful French “campagne” (countryside) on the listener’s mind and “Nuit Blanche” (“white night” as in “can’t sleep due to affairs of the heart”…). This is a good track, slick with a catchy tune, it is romantic and maybe a bit too sweet-sounding at times “Je me perd, je me perd dans son sourire” (I lose myself in his smile), the guy sitting next to me is singing along, nodding, but then again, he is definitely a fan as he confessed to me earlier in the evening.
A good rendition of The Doors’ “When you are strange” is performed as well – Cyrille’s voice is deep, meaningful for the first time since stepping on stage. She can sing in 3 different languages with lines sung in Spanish for this particular track. Using a gypsy jazz groove, Cyrille uses his guitar men to the max. Both Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeaun come up trumps. They play magnificently, they stand out and are carrying the band throughout including Cyrille!
“Foggy London Town” (composed originally by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin) sees Cyrille and Sam Anning alone on stage performing a duet made perfect by Sam’s up-tempo string plucking.
The first set ends with another French song which is made great by the clever guitar of Monsieur Adrien Moignard.
There is a certain ingenuity about Cyrille and her stage presence. Yet, she can move awkwardly and at times it seems she is dancing a little, albeit rather stiffly. This is her first time performing at Ronnie Scott’s so perhaps the tension is lingering on. Her chirpy character though pulls her through to the interval.
Time to relax before the second set which proves a strange mixture of classics like “Where or when” to “Well, you needn’t” (a cover of Thelonious Monk’s 1944 jazz standard).
But there are more popular tunes offered by Ms Aimée and co, namely “Off the wall”, extensively played on radio stations.
An interesting pick is a song by Vanessa Paradis (Johnny Depp’s ex and of “Joe Le Taxi” fame ) called “Pourtant” and sung in French.
Django Reinhardt’s music also makes an appearance: Cyrille has written some lyrics for one of his compositions. There is a link here, of course, Django retired to Samois-sur-Seine (north-central France) where Mademoiselle Aimée grew up. Samois sur Seine is an important phase in Cyrille’s life: she was mesmerized by the lives and the music of the gipsies who lived in the area.
They impacted greatly on the type of jazz which is now portrayed in her renditions and arrangements. One thing is clear though: there needs to be more Cyrille Aimée and less covers and, perhaps, less scatting and more singing. Then we will all be able to appreciate the talent that she can bring to the jazz scene.
Top marks to Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeaun: amazing guitar improvisations. We need to see and hear more from them!