Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

September/October 2016: Robi Botos

Cyrille Aimée: Fabulously French

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Singer Cyrille Aimée is taking over the jazz scene with her unique sounds, fresh ideas, exceptional precision, and incredible rhythm, and Winnipeggers are in for a treat when she returns to our city at the end of October.

Born to a French father and a Dominican mother in the village of Samois-sur-Seine, France, Cyrille connected as a child with the Manouche gypsy community who attended the nearby annual Django Reinhardt Festival. She loved their warmth and free-spirited energy. After learning some Django Reinhardt tunes to sing with them, she received a box of Ella Fitzgerald CDs. As she says, “When I heard her scatting, I just fell completely in love with it. It was improvisation that made me want to sing—and that’s why I love jazz.”

In her early years as a musician you could find her playing in different Parisian cafés and clubs, her culturally rich upbringing forming the base of her unique sound—a combination of gypsy swing and Latin rhythms. But she was hungry to learn, and eventually moved to the US and enrolled in the music program at Purchase College.

She was the only vocalist in the program, and learning alongside instrumentalists not only contributed to unique arranging styles and unparalleled scatting accuracy, but it shifted her emphasis as a vocalist. Ask any singer about the most important part of a song, and they’ll point to the lyrics. Lyrics turn melodies into emotion and translate rhythm into stories. But when you listen to Cyrille, the emphasis is on rhythm and melody, allowing her to communicate across languages and cultures. Sometimes she leaves the lyrics out completely, and still her music exudes emotion.

The positive energy of Cyrille Aimée’s music has bewitched even the toughest critics. On her 2011 trip to Winnipeg with the Hot Club of Detroit, she wowed the audience. Since then she has released two albums, It’s a Good Day and Let’s Get Lost, won multiple awards and competitions—including the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition—and been heralded as “one of the most promising jazz singers of her generation.”

On October 22, she performs two shows at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, as part of this year’s Izzy Asper Jazz Performances series. While she’s in town, she’ll be offering a masterclass as well. Don’t miss this chance to see a jazz legend in the making!

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