Cyrille Aimee, "Move On: A Sondheim Adventure" - New York City Article
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Cyrille Aimee, “Move On: A Sondheim Adventure”
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Tuesday February 26 through Saturday March 2
There have been other Sondheim albums, but they're usually and appropriately most often by Broadway-oriented singers. (Just last year there was the wonderful Sondheim Sublime by Melissa Errico, and I don’t want to overlook another valuable and personal set by the Manhattan Transfer’s Cheryl Bentine, titled Rearrangements of Shadows (The Music of Stephen Sondheim).) Cyrille Aimee is probably the most purely-jazz-oriented singer ever to tackle an all-Sondheim program, this being a direct outgrowth of her participation in the 2013 A Bed and a Chair, a jazz-Broadway hybrid which deserves revival.) Mr. Sondheim, unlike earlier Broadway composers (especially prior to Rodgers & Hammerstein) writes very intricate melodies and lyrics that are generally bound to specific characters in specific stories in specific shows - they don't normally lend themselves to performances outside of the shows they were written for, much less to a jazz interpretation. Unlike Gershwin or Harold Arlen, no one would describe Sondheim as a swinging cat. (Although I did see him once at Birdland, he was there for a performance by his friend, the great lyricist Alan Bergman.)
Ms. Aimee’s Move On: A Sondheim Adventure is especially notable, because she’s not just a jazz-”oriented” singer, but, more than most of her contemporaries, she's made a specialty out of pure sonic playfulness (somehow referring to what she does as "scatting" seems too reductive). Born and raised in France, she's not a native English speaker, and has rarely made lyric interpretation one of her primary goals. However, with this exceptional new project (her best so far) she lets us have it both ways - some numbers are joyful jazz romps: "Take Me to the World" becomes a New Orleans or Rio street parade march, “Being Alive” is now equal parts calypso and samba, while “When I Get Famous” is an a capella exercise for her voice and loop machine. Yet in others, like "No One is Alone," she shows that her ability to bring out the inner meaning of the words has been growing and maturing steadily, along with the rest of her talents. Miss Aimee has been denied the jazz vocal Grammy up until now (as near as I can tell, she has yet to be nominated) but this new release is a real contender.
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Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)