AKRON, OH (words and photos by Dale Dong, Akronist) – On a recent Sunday evening, jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimée packed the house at Blu Jazz+, selling out the first show. Aimée is among the most talked about performers in jazz today, and her appearance continues the club’s effort to bring top jazz musicians to Akron.
Recent performers included saxophone legend Chris Potter and Grammy Award winning organist Joey DeFrancesco. Aimée performed at Blu Jazz+ once before in March of 2015.
Cyrille Aimée (pronounced Sir-real Em-Ay), who also appeared at Blu in March of 2015, brought with her a group consisting of herself on vocals, Michael Valeanu on acoustic guitar, Felix Lemerle on electric guitar, Dylan Shamat on bass and Dani Danor on drums.
The group performed many of the tunes from Aimée’s latest CD “Let’s Get Lost,” and also Juan Tizol’s “Caravan,” Monk’s “Well You Needn’t,” and the standard “Autumn Leaves” (Kosma/Prevért). Clearly the band was having fun and mesmerized the audience with their tight interactive playing, laying down grooves from hypnotic (“There’s a Lull in My Life”) to bashing (“Well You Needn’t”).
Having two guitarists allowed Aimée to play both the gypsy style she is known for, and the current straight-ahead New York style. (Aimée grew up in France in the town of Samois-sur-Seine, home of the annual Django Reinhardt Festival.)
Cohesive and interactive play was the order of the night, especially between guitarist Valeanu and Aimée, who have recorded together and toured together. The selection of tunes and arrangements allowed each musician in the group freedom and opportunity to be heard.
A highlight of the evening was a duo performance of “Autumn Leaves” with Aimée and bassist Shamat. Aimée sang the rarely heard original French lyrics before going into some inspired scat singing. Shamat showed his Wilbur Ware/Paul Chambers roots with his tuneful energetic bass solo. Cyrille Aimée is currently on tour.