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Teaming Adonis Rose’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra with the French-born Cyrille Aimée seemed like a good excuse to emphasize the ties between New Orleans and France. At least that was the original concept. However, the results, while rewarding, come closer to the type of vocal albums of the 1960s that found the Count Basie Orchestra playing a subsidiary role behind a variety of singers.
The France-New Orleans connection is at its strongest on the first three numbers, which include the title track and Django Reinhardt’s “Si Tu Savais.” Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur” is taken at a perfect medium-slow tempo that is ideal for Aimée’s warm and sensuous vocal, which is joined by the passionate soprano-sax playing of Ricardo Pascal (who’s listed in the credits as only playing tenor). This rendition is both memorable and dramatic, while “Si Tu Savais” is almost on the same level.
Only a few of the other numbers evoke New Orleans or France. There are occasional solos along the way (none credited in the liners), most notably a trumpet battle by Ashlin Parker and John Michael Bradford on Aimée’s “Down” and some booting tenor by Ed Petersen during an obscure Jelly Roll Morton tune (“Get the Bucket”) that in this version sounds like it’s from the early 1950s.
In actuality, this album should have been billed as “Cyrille Aimée featuring Adonis Rose and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra,” instead of the other way around. The singer displays quite a bit of talent and versatility. She’s a superior ballad singer (“What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,” “Crazy He Calls Me”); scats creatively on the relaxed “In the Land of Beginning Again” and the uptempo “Undecided”; is quite at home on the Fats Domino-inspired “I Don’t Hurt Anymore”; and swings with the big band during “On a Clear Day.”
Petite Fleur is easily recommended to Aimée’s many fans. — Scott Yanow
Featured photo by Noe Cugny.