February 18, 2019. On Move On: A Sondheim Adventure, Cyrille Aimée’s ninth album, we get one of contemporary jazz’s most distinctive voices without the band we've come to strongly associate with her sound. Though longtime fans of Cyrille's trademark gypsy swing needn't despair—the Django Reinhardt influence is still present, nowhere more so than on "So Many People," where Aimée is joined by longtime collaborator, the superb French guitarist, Adrien Moignard.
Still, a full album's treatment of the Stephen Sondheim songbook is scarcely what we would've expected from Cyrille—Broadway-style musical theatre simply wasn't a huge musical influence while she was growing up in France.
But we should be glad Cyrille decided to surprise us. That she was able to make Sondheim himself tear up during a rendition of "Live Alone and Like It" a few years back at New York's City Center no doubt surprised her, almost certainly providing the confidence to pull off a project this ambitious.
Musically, Move On is the equivalent of a superior cocktail hour or world-class tapas bar; Aimée takes the Sondheim canon and gives us a chef's tasting menu's worth of small jazz plates that satisfy but don’t stuff.
For a taste of New Orleans, try “Take Me to the World,” a roux of second-line rhythms with robust brass band backing—it might be the next best thing to actually leading a festival parade down Magazine Street.
“No One is Alone,” the headiest tune from the deceptively sophisticated Into the Woods, receives its bluesiest treatment to date. Cyrille takes the tune to church in a way that crosses over into musical territory cultivated by Joe Zawinul and Cannonball in “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!”
On “Marry Me a Little,” the clever, self-effacing ode to vulnerability and commitment from Company, Cyrille reunites with Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueiredo, a veteran of two earlier Cyrille albums, whose elegant finger-picked chords frame a naturally enchanting singer at the peak of her intoxicatingly charming powers.
Whomever she’s singing to would be crazy not to marry her a little. There are more inventive, pulse-pounding arrangements on the album—the salsa-infused “Being Alive” (also from Company) might be the record’s most electrifying re-imagination, with a tight horn arrangement and extended scatting from Cyrille—but it’s here where Sondheim’s genius, his writing, most greatly amplifies the singer’s natural star-power.