Cyrille Aimée is always having fun on stage. She smiles in countless photos from her concerts. And in her smile is the joy of a little girl who grew up near the birthplace of Django Reinhardt, and who snuck out at night to sing with the gypsies.
That rhythm of the gypsies, the fingers so quickly churning on guitar strings, is in the musical DNA of her band, and of all the music Cyrille sings. Her new album, Cyrille Aimée Live, is a perfect delight. Charming. Swinging. Dancing. Laughing.
All of the above burst forth joyously when Cyrille was the first to win the Sarah Vaughan Vocal Competition at NJPAC. Nobody else sang like Cyrille. Nobody else could.
She's singing some of the songs that have already become signatures. Peggy Lee's "It's a Good Day." Stephen Sondheim's "Live Alone and Like It." Cyrille sang the latter with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on a City Center "Encores" Sondheim show. Alongside a legend of Broadway, Bernadette Peters, Cyrille's star was being born.
She's that much more fun when she tells stories onstage — stories about her songs, stories about her life, even one about Bernadette on the new album. She sings a couple of chansons, "Nuit Blanche" (White Night) and Sidney Bechet's "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" (If You See My Mother), to keep her musical feet planted deeply where she comes from. She shines new light on standards: "Day By Day," "Three Little Words." She turns the Thelonious Monk classic "Well, You Needn't" into a tour de force of sweet quirkiness.
Cyrille Aimée Live will be released on Mack Avenue Records on June 22.